Criminal Justice News

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bessemer Woman Sentenced to 16 Months in Prison for Disaster Fraud


BIRMINGHAM—U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre today sentenced a Bessemer woman to 16 months in prison for forging a Bessemer Fire Department report as part of her fraudulent application for disaster benefits following the devastating April 27, 2011 tornadoes in Alabama, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance; Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge James E. Ward; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.

Sabrita Latrice Goodwin, 25, altered the fire department report to make it appear that the department had concluded a fire at Goodwin’s Bessemer residence had been caused by a tornado. Goodwin submitted the fraudulent report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in support of her application for emergency disaster relief, according to court records. Goodwin pleaded guilty in April to presenting a false document to the government. Goodwin is in federal custody.

Goodwin committed the crime “in the wake of one of the most serious natural disasters to ever affect this state,” the government said in its sentencing memorandum. “The defendant sought to fraudulently divert disaster benefits to herself that were meant for honest citizens genuinely affected by the storm,” the government said.

The FBI and the Inspector General’s Office of DHS investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama.

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