Hampstead woman sentenced to prison in disaster fraud case
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A Hampstead woman has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for fraudulent disaster assistance claims following Hurricane Florence.
Dishawn Batts also will be under supervised release for five years after she is released. As part of the judgment, Batts was ordered to pay $24,835.50 in criminal restitution to FEMA.
“According to court documents and other information presented in court, in an application for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance, Batts falsely claimed she had been displaced by Hurricane Florence and was living in a temporary rental residence,” a Department of Justice news release states. “Her initial application was approved, and Batts was awarded funds for personal property damage and two months of rental assistance.
“From September 15, 2018, to November 27, 2019, Batts submitted a series of claims for continued rental assistance wherein Batts falsely represented that she remained displaced and unable to return to her primary residence. In support of these claims, Batts submitted fraudulent documentation including phony lease agreements, rental receipts, utilities records, and Social Security Administration records. As a result, Batts received $24,835.50 in assistance for which she did not qualify.”
Batts pleaded guilty in the case on Nov. 17, 2022.
“This defendant schemed to steal from a taxpayer-funded program that was intended to help displaced families recover from a natural disaster by providing necessary housing and utility assistance,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Now, she will be housed in a federal prison and required to repay every penny she stole.”
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