Miss. couple found guilty in storm fraud
By Mary Sparacello
KENNER, Miss. — A Kenner couple were found guilty last week in federal court in Mississippi of defrauding the government out of more than $150,000 after Hurricane Katrina.
A jury in Gulfport on Friday convicted Jerome and Catherine Foreman to conclude a four-day trial, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Mississippi.
The Foremans had received a $150,000 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority based on an application saying their primary residence was a Diamondhead house damaged by Katrina, court documents said. They owned the house but did not live there before or during Katrina, prosecutors said. Jerome Foreman filed a valid claim of damage to his Kenner home but also defrauded FEMA of $6,706 by fraudulently declaring the Diamondhead home as his primary residence.
He was found guilty of making false statements, making a false claim and theft. His wife was found guilty of theft but acquitted of making false statements.
As a result, the Foremans must forfeit the $156,706 they received from the government, according to court documents.
Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 28 before U.S. District Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden. The Foremans each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines, although maximum penalties are rare in federal court.
The couple remain free on $25,000 bond each. Neither of the Foremans nor their attorney returned telephone calls for comment Monday.