2 charged with disaster assistance fraud for Hurricane Irma

Florida

FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2017 file photo, waves crash over a seawall at the mouth of the Miami River from Biscayne Bay, Fla., as Hurricane Irma passes by in Miami. In his first 10 months in office, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed a science officer, established a czar on climate change and pushed action against red tide and algae blooms. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI (AP) — Two Florida women have been accused of lying about damage caused by Hurricane Irma in separate cases, federal prosecutors announced this week.

Indictments were returned charging Bernita Willette Carswell, 36, of Jacksonville, and Deannajo White, 39, Suwannee County, with disaster assistance fraud. They each face up to 30 years in federal prison.

Both women falsified records concerning their primary residences when submitting applications for assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to indictments.

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

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida is prosecuting the cases.

A telephone message seeking comment from the Federal Public Defender, which is representing both women, wasn’t immediately returned.

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