Hampstead woman sentenced to year in prison for disaster fraud

Flooding in Hurricane Florence (Photo: WTVD)

HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — A Pender County woman has been sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in prison, followed by five years of supervised release for fraudulent disaster assistance claims following Hurricane Florence.

As part of the judgment, Dishawn Batts was also ordered to pay $24,835.50 in criminal restitution to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This defendant schemed to steal from a taxpayer-funded program that was intended to help displaced families recover from a natural disaster by providing necessary housing and utility assistance,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said. “Now, she will be housed in a federal prison and required to repay every penny she stole.”

In an application for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance, Batts falsely claimed she had been displaced by Hurricane Florence and was living in a temporary rental residence.  Her initial application was approved, and Batts was awarded funds for personal property damage and two months of rental assistance.

From September 15, 2018 to November 27, 2019, Batts submitted a series of claims for continued rental assistance wherein Batts falsely represented that she remained displaced and unable to return to her primary residence.  As a result, Batts received $24,835.50 in assistance for which she did not qualify.

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