PRC starting to see some more money from FEMA

Published 11:01 pm Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pearl River County is finally starting to see some more money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement for debris removal after Katrina.

Pearl River County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said in a telephone interview Friday that he received an email stating that $2 million had been processed last week and was approved on Thursday. Lumpkin said he hopes to receive the money by one day next week.

“It usually takes 10 days or so to process once it has been signed off on,” said Lumpkin. “It looks like something is finally starting to get done.”

This is a start on the reimbursement, but Lumpkin said after this money comes in, FEMA will still owe the county between $2.2 and $2.8 million.

“One thing they (FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) need to discuss is what will be done in the case of the fraud tickets,” said Lumpkin.

The entire amount of the false debris hauling tickets was not paid by the county, said Lumpkin, but some of the money was. Lumpkin says it will be up to the county in the next few days to determine exactly how much the county withheld and how much can be recovered of the amount paid on the fraudulent tickets. Lumpkin said restitution for funds that cannot be recovered would be designated in a court order.

Payment to Pearl River County was being held pending the sentencing of Clinton K. Miller of Carriere, Lauren Robertson of Picayune and Allan Kitto of Dundee, Fla. The three pleaded guilty in February to charges of receiving $716,677 in illegal disaster debris removal payments from FEMA after Hurricane Katrina.

According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office regarding the sentencing, Kitto was sentenced to 25 months, Miller was sentenced to 33 months, and Robertson was sentenced to 13 months. Also, each defendant was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $275,057.

FEMA has obligated $2 billion for the State of Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina funding. The obligated funds are held by the federal government until invoicing is provided. Once the invoices are received for a project, the money is transferred to a “smart-link” account for MEMA to pay the invoices. About $1 billion has been paid to the state so far.