2 Miss. Men Face Sentencing in December for Katrina Fraud

Two south Mississippi men will be sentenced in December for making false claims for Hurricane Katrina relief, officials said.

Danny Gene Hale will be sentenced Dec. 4 on six counts of fraud. Hale was convicted on Sept. 5 in federal court in Gulfport, and U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola ordered him held in federal custody until his sentencing.

Hale faces a maximum 80 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines on all counts, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Hale was convicted of making a false statement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster assistance, filing a false claim with FEMA, theft of government funds and three counts of mail fraud.

Prosecutors said Hale received $11,000 from FEMA by claiming hurricane damage at an address where he no longer lived.

Prosecutors said when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Hale was in federal custody on forged money order charges and was not released until December 2005.

In a separate case this week, Mario Leleaux of Biloxi was convicted of defrauding government programs of $52,917, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Leleaux pleaded guilty to providing false claims to FEMA and the Mississippi Development Authority. He also was convicted of emergency disaster food stamp fraud.

He will be sentenced Dec. 3.

Leleaux claimed he was living in an Ocean Springs home at the time of the storm, but actually was renting out the house and living with his parents, according to the news release.

He faces up to 10 years on prison and a $510,000 fine.