Fraud charges filed in Hurricane Katrina probeby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A man and woman who lived together in St. Paul after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans have been charged with fraudulently claiming disaster relief benefits, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Johnny Watson, 34, and Jovanta Schaffer, 25, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Minnesota in June. The indictment has since been unsealed after Watson was arrested in Texas.
According to the indictment, Watson and Schaffer filed false claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency between August 2005 and August 2007. Watson allegedly received about $47,000 in hurricane relief assistance, and Schaffer is accused of accepting more than $17,000.
According to federal prosecutors, Watson and Schaffer listed the same New Orleans address on their applications, but authorities found that the property owner didn't know the pair.
Watson now lives in Houston, Texas, and Schaffer lives in New Orleans, according to court records.