LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Donald J. Balberchak, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Miami Field Office, and Enrique Gutierrez, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, announced that defendant, Tywanishia Preston, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspector in Miami-Dade County, was sentenced today before United States District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard to one year and one day imprisonment for her receipt of bribes in the performance of her duties as a FEMA inspector after Hurricane Frances.
Preston was charged with inflating applicants’ claims for FEMA disaster relief exchange for kickbacks from the applicants. Preston was indicted on October 18, 2005, for receipt of bribes by a public official, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 201(b)(2)©, and making false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287. On April 27, 2006, she pled guilty to the bribery count.
FEMA is the agency authorized to provide disaster assistance in the State of Florida to eligible victims of Hurricane Frances, which made landfall on September 5, 2004, near Sewall’s Point, Martin County, Florida. In particular, FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (“IHP”) was a program that provided financial assistance to individuals who suffered property losses and damage from Hurricane Frances. Preston approached victims seeking aid under the IHP, and solicited bribes in exchange for fraudulently inflating the value of their claims.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, and United States Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Osborne and Randy Katz of the Major Crimes Section.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.