5 plead guilty to FEMA fraud

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Five south Mississippi residents pleaded guilty Monday to fraud involving disaster-relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The defendants who made their pleas before U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. are Emily Fuqua, Duane Adams, Clarence Hall, Patty Richards and Hassie Baker. They remain free until their April 9 sentencings.

Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Guirola said a lesser sentence may be considered as part of their plea agreements. They also could be ordered to pay back the money they weren’t entitled to receive.

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Four of them pleaded guilty to making a false claim for disaster-relief assistance following Hurricane Katrina.

Fuqua pleaded guilty to making a false statement to FEMA on Adams’ behalf. Fuqua and Adams both worked at FEMA’s Biloxi office until they were arrested on the job in September 2006.