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FEMA Still Owed $643M For Katrina Fraud

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

FEMA is urged to pursue $643 million in bogus payments after Katrina, Rita

Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune
Monday, January 03, 2011

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should move immediately to recoup $643 million from 160,000 applicants that the agency has identified as receiving improper disaster assistance payments after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other disasters since, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner said in a report issued Monday.

The money represents about 9 percent of the more than $7 billion in assistance paid to disaster survivors by FEMA since those two storms, according to the report, and was improperly paid as a result of inadequate FEMA internal controls, human error, mistakes and fraud.

FEMA officials say they plan to try to recoup it, though it’s unclear how successful the effort will be.

While a number of the improper payments were the result of individuals who used false names or addresses or other illegal actions, many also were the result of people who evacuated without family financial records receiving initial payments in the days and weeks immediately after Katrina and Rita, and then got similar payments from their insurance companies without understanding that such "double-dipping" was not allowed, FEMA officials said.

Right. Who knew you couldn’t collect from the government and your insurance company for the same damage?

FEMA stopped trying to collect most of the improper payments in 2007 after U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans ordered the agency to discontinue its debt-collection activities while revising its rules for "recoupment," the federal term for identifying and collecting improper payments.

The order came in a lawsuit that challenged FEMA’s decision to halt its financial housing assistance program and FEMA’s attempt to collect housing assistance money that was allegedly improperly paid to some evacuees. Ironically, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the portion of the suit challenging the collection process, but FEMA kept its suspension in place while it rewrote the program’s rules.

In other words, there was no legal reason for FEMA to suspend collecting this $643 million taxpayer dollars. They just couldn’t be bothered.

On Dec. 13, FEMA settled the rest of the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $2.5 million to people affected when the rental payment program ended.

By the way, notice the failure to mention who brought this lawsuit? Was it ACORN or the ACLU or the SEIU or the NAACP? Or all or some of these noble groups?

According to the inspector general’s report, FEMA has established its new collection process, which will be handled by a new FEMA National Processing Service Center in Texas, identified staff needed to conduct it, and begun a review of the 160,000 cases. But the agency still hasn’t begun the debt collection process

What’s the rush, anyway?

"At FEMA, we are committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, and not only do we agree with the inspector general’s recommendation to recoup disaster assistant payments that were improperly disbursed to individuals in recent years, but we are and have been actively working with state and local leadership and other stakeholders to finalize plans to recoup misspent funds, while continuing to support Gulf Coast communities as they recover," said Rachel Racusen, a FEMA spokeswoman…

Mind you, Obama-care will be FEMA on steroids.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “FEMA Still Owed $643M For Katrina Fraud”

  1. Georgfelis says:

    The nutcracker will come down hardest on honest poor people who were wiped out by Katrina and have paperwork issues with FEMA or their insurance companies. FEMA will claim the insurance covers them and demand their money back, and the fiscally-pinched insurance company will claim the damages were not covered by the policy and they should go to FEMA.

  2. proreason says:

    The feds learned from this mistake and will do a much better job administering your health care.

    Oh sure, there will the occasion millions of unnecessary deaths, but the government’s rigorous procedures will insure that all of little lenin’s cronies will be able to collect their allotments several times over.

    • Mithrandir says:

      That’s right. They will doing the same things they do now: take, and give to their supporters. Bailout union buddies as voting kick-backs.

      Health Care: Pull strings, intimidate, harass, fire, jail, fine anyone gets in the way of supporters who need organ transplants, or blood transfusions, or any other service.

      Got to be part of the party, to reap the benefits!

  3. Papa Louie says:

    “But the agency still hasn’t begun the debt collection process…”

    If your number one priority is to redistribute the wealth, why care about a little fraud that only impacts people rich enough to pay taxes?

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    But….but……it’s Bushs’ fault that these double dippers were allowed to purge the system. Hell, he didn’t immediately respond except for the Navy, Marines, 82nd Airborne, Coast Guard, FEMA and a gank of others. (sarc)
    Besides……what’s a half billion dollars when the current prez is tripling down?

    Just more razzle-dazzle and slight of hand from the DC Mafia gang.

  5. Obviously, trying to collect this debt is racist. Or so goes the narrative.

    It’s simply much easier for FEMA to waste the tax payers’ money.

  6. platypus says:

    How is this an issue? Can’t the fed just print the money and give it to FEMA?

    Or am I missing something?

  7. Mithrandir says:

    This is why you have to be cautious taking anything from the gov’t. The CASH FOR CLUNKERS, and the $8000 1st TIME HOMEBUYERS REBATE has hidden taxes to be repaid, or other strings attached.

    Another reason for the money missing during Katrina, is that the big gov’t types, LOVE to see money thrown at a problem. It creates jobs chasing the usual 40% of fraud, waste, abuse, and entraps people to take advantage of it. That way, the courts are full and busy, lawyers get money, and the probation system keeps on humming away with more victims….ingenious!

    • AcornsRNutz says:

      Well in those instances you cited, I note what I have long observed. If the government has to incentivize something, it is best to avoid it for any number of reasons. Perhaps pumping money into that pit of corruption, failed liberal schemes and veritable symbol of the failed welfare state amounts to cash for clunkers, and thus obviously the government propping up the loser on our dime again. Perhaps I am too harsh, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      I like your spin on this.
      Perhaps we should revisit the original “Cash for Clunkers” circa 1965.
      See what you get when you throw money at a problem?
      The gubamint created generations of moochers.

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