Houma Woman Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds

Published 7:52 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that NICOLE COCKERHAM (“COCKERHAM”), age 42, of Houma, Louisiana, pled guilty on June 2, 2022 to Theft of Government Funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.

According to documents filed in federal court, from March 2019 to July 2020, COCKERHAM knowingly converted approximately $38,851.00 in Social Security Administration and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES ACT”) funds.

COCKERHAM faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000.00, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.  Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for September 13, 2022, before United States District Judge Wendy D. Vitter.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, and the Treasury Inspection General for Tax Administration with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit.