Deontres Javan Taylor (27, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to disaster assistance fraud involving FEMA benefits

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Jacksonville, Florida – Deontres Javan Taylor (27, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to disaster assistance fraud involving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) benefits. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the United States in the amount of $8,083.19. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, on September 4, 2017, Taylor made an application for disaster assistance benefits to FEMA. In the application, he claimed that his primary residence in Jacksonville had suffered storm damage from Hurricane Irma. Taylor stated that storm surge flooded his home and that lightning caused a power surge which resulted in the residence losing power. As a result of these issues, Taylor claimed that he had moved to a hotel and needed housing assistance. Based on the false statements made by Taylor in his application, FEMA paid $8,038.19 in benefits for Taylor.

Follow up investigation by the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, determined that Taylor hadn’t lived at the residence he had listed in his benefits application since at least 2015, and that he was not there when Hurricane Irma impacted the Jacksonville area. An inspection by FEMA of the residence that Taylor had listed in his benefits application determined that the home did not suffer storm surge damage nor lose power due to Hurricane Irma.

This case is part of the United States Attorney’s Disaster Fraud Task Force, which was announced in September 2017. This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.

Members of the public who suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, or believe they have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, should contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721 or submit a complaint online: https://www.justice.gov/DisasterComplaintForm.

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