By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Sometimes disasters bring out the best in people, but on the other hand…. A federal grand jury has indicted several people on fraud charges in connection with the Camp Fire incident in Paradise, California, from 2018. All had received FEMA funds.
Deborah Laughlin (64) said her primary residence burned up, and got $9,674 and a FEMA trailer. Turns out, her actual home was in Willows, California, and at the time of the fire she was actually in jail. She told authorities she had to flee the flames for her life, and was in such a hurry she left her dentures behind. Apparently there were no teeth to her claims.
Chico resident Evan Palmer (30) said he had a primary residence on Clark Road in Paradise. Palmer said his RV had been burned up in the fire, and FEMA handed him a check for more than $26,000 for the loss. His actual residence was not in Paradise, but in Chico. Right now, Palmer’s address is entirely different. The Chico Enterprise-Record says Palmer is in prison: He got a nine-year state prison sentence for child endangerment and making cannabis honey oil at his Chico residence. The place blew up with him and his 5-month old daughter inside. They were unharmed.
Kristy Marie Tapp (34) tapped FEMA for more than $3,000, claiming she had landlords who died in the fire. But Tapp didn’t report in until after public notification had been made of the deaths of an older couple. That was the couple who she paid the rent to. Of course, the couple wasn’t around to confirm or deny the matter, and it turns out, they weren’t her landlords, nor did she live in Paradise.
Finally, Patrick Prigmore (54) also falsely claimed Paradise as his primary residence. He got more than $12,000 in benefits and a FEMA trailer.
Says the indictment, they all got money, and they all lied. Now what will they get? Up to 30 years in prison if convicted, and up to $250,000 in fines.