Paradise woman pleads guilty to making false statements for Camp Fire disaster relief funds

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A woman from Paradise is facing up to 30 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty Monday to making false statements while receiving over $77,000 in Camp Fire disaster relief.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California said 64-year-old Deborah Laughlin falsely claimed that she was living in a Paradise mobile home that was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018.

According to court documents, other people were renting and living in the mobile home at the time.

Based on the false statement in Laughlin’s application for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief benefits, the attorney’s office said she received “$7,886 to replace essential items damaged by the disaster and $1,788 for two months of rental assistance.”

In addition to the funds, Laughlin also “received temporary housing from FEMA in a manufactured home from June 24, 2019, until April 7, 2021,” according to the release.

In total, the attorney’s office said Laughlin caused the U.S. to lose at least $77,249.

Laughlin is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20.

Members of the public who suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, including California wildfires or COVID-19 relief efforts, or who believe they have been a 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 email DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov.

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