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Man admits applying for 50 Katrina relief checks

An unemployed man admitted Monday that he submitted more than 50 false applications for government aid following Hurricane Katrina and collected more than $76,000 in disaster relief checks.

Jeffrey Rothschild, 59, pleaded guilty in federal court to mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

He said he found people’s names and birth dates on Internet sites, then selected home address in the hurricane zone or just made them up and applied for aid.

Rothschild, who has no permanent address, admitted having the $2,000 checks delivered to motels or to mailboxes he rented using fake identification. He received checks on 38 applications, prosecutors said.

He then tried to launder the money by passing it through different bank accounts.

He also admitted applying under two different names for disaster aid for hurricane damage to his wife’s home, even though he didn’t live there.

“I was drinking heavily and under severe stress from people I owed gambling debts to,” Rothschild said in court.

The bank fraud involves a check kiting scheme unrelated to the Katrina relief money.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Rothschild faces up to about nine years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 1. He must pay back the money he took.