Former FEMA worker gets 5-year fraud sentence

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 7, 2008

A former FEMA worker who stole the identities of disaster victims to go on shopping sprees — which a federal judge called “low down” — was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison.

Robert G. Davis, 44, of the District of Columbia, got 64 months in prison from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, and was ordered to pay $48,765.80 in restitution. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

“I made a mistake by doing this. I’m extremely sorry,” David said.

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But an angry Walton said Davis deserved the sentence because he preyed on people who were already devastated by natural disasters.

“Rather than trying to help these people, you hurt them even more,” said Walton, describing it as akin to kicking a homeless person. “That’s low down. It really is.”

Davis stole the identities of over 200 people while working at several mortgage companies and with natural disaster victims while at the Federal Emergency Management Agency from December 2003 to November 2007. About 30 of those people had given their information to FEMA as part of their applications for disaster relief.

He used the accounts to go on shopping sprees and ordered gold and diamond jewelry, designer watches, gourmet food including steaks, lobster, and seafood, and lingerie and clothing. Things that Davis did not keep he pawned.

Davis, who had asked for a lighter sentence, blamed a drug problem and abuse as a child for his crimes. But Walton noted that drug addicts don’t normally order steak and lobster, and simple restitution won’t help people whose credit record Davis blemished.

“You never know how long they’re going to be blemished by this,” Walton said.