[JURIST] Government investigators told the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee [official website] in a hearing [prepared testimony] Monday that the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] had been plagued by fraud [JURIST news archive] and abuse costing taxpayers millions.
Alice Fisher, the Justice Department official chairing the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force [official website] set up in September [JURIST report] by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, reviewed a range of prosecutions [PDF] brought for contract fraud, benefit fraud, identity theft and public corruption. Some 212 people have so far been charged [HKFTF report, PDF] across the country with frauds related to the fall hurricane that ravaged the Gulf Coast, with over 40 pleading guilty. Also Monday, a GAO report [PDF] presented to the Senate committee concluded that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received Katrina aid under the federal emergency cash assistance program used duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names. MSNBC has more.