Local Woman Accused of Hurricane Fraud

United States Attorney Matthew D. Orwig announced today that a 68-year-old Gainsville woman has been indicted for hurricane related fraud in the Eastern District of Texas. Darby Orange has been charged with making a false statement on an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

U.S. Attorney Orwig said he remained on the alert for any form of hurricane fraud, “Real hurricane victims will suffer again when they are unable to receive assistance because the funds have been depleted by greedy individuals trying to make a quick-buck. Even as we have entered a new hurricane season, we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who took advantage of last year’s storms.”

According to the indictment, Orange stated that she maintained her primary residence in Diberville, Mississippi, when Hurricane Katrina hit that area on August 29, 2005. The indictment also alleges that Orange’s primary residence on August 29, 2005 was in Gainsville, Texas, and not in any area affected by a hurricane.

If convicted, Orange faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of either guilt or innocence.

The case is part of an initiative by the Department of Justice Hurricane Fraud Task Force, established by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft and insurance and benefits fraud.

The case is being investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andy Williams.