Man charged with filing false oil spill claim

New Orleans, La. - A 41-year old New Orleans man is in trouble with the feds, accused of filing a false claim to get financial assistance during the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  U.S. Attorney Jim Letten says Dwayne Smith has been charged in a one-count bill of information with mail fraud.

According to the bill of information,  Smith left New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, living in Georgia from 2005 to 2010.  Letten says about four months after the oil spill,  Smith returned to New Orleans and set up a business known as "D&D Designs."  In October 2010, he is alleged to have submitted a false and fraudulent application to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility stating his business had lost $100,000 in business profits as a result of the disaster.

According to federal records, Smith submitted false and fraudulent tax returns and business documents falsely stating his business had operated in New Orleans at a profit for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and the first part of 2010.  As a result of his application, Smith received an emergency advance payment in the form of a $75,000 check on December 10, 2010 and a final GCCF claim payment of $25,000 on February 3, 2011.

If convicted,  Smith faces a maximum term of twenty years in prison, a $250,000 fine, full restitution to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, three (3) years of supervised release following imprisonment and $100 special assessment.

U. S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the bill of information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.