Florida Couple Accused of Hurricane Irma Disaster Assistance Fraud

September 15, 2020

A Florida husband and wife have been charged with lying about damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

Christina Catalano, 38, and Joseph Catalano, 54, both of Holiday, were arrested Sept. 9, according to federal court records.

Christina Catalano has been charged with disaster assistance fraud, and both have been charged with making false statements to federal agents. Christina Catalano faces up to 30 years in prison, and Joseph Catalano faces five years.

According to an indictment, Christina Catalano falsified records in the fall of 2017 concerning the alleged destruction of a non-existent travel trailer, which she claimed as her primary residence in Citrus County. The records were part of a relief program application sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Hurricane Irma’s ‘Last Gasp’: 3-Year Claims Deadline Put to the Test

With the storm’s 3-year anniversary comes a deadline that much of the industry hopes will put an end to the many purported frivolous and fraudulent Irma-related claims that have taken a significant toll on the state’s insurance market.

The indictment further alleges that in January 2020, Christina and Joseph Catalano made false statements to Department of Homeland Security agents to conceal the fraudulent claims.

Attorneys for Christina and Joseph Catalano did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the case.

Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September 2017, causing about $50 billion in damage throughout the state.

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