GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Texas attorney and six other defendants have been indicted by a federal grand jury on 95 counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, identity theft and aggravated identity theft related to claims made after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"This indictment represents the largest disaster fraud identity theft case to date, associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust," said Craig S. Caldwell, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service field office in Birmingham.
The indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, alleges the defendants created "clients" by illegally obtaining names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers to file claims with BP and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Read the full indictment here: http://shout.lt/bgSNd
The defendants named in the indictment are Mikal C. Watts, 48, David Watts, 50, Wynter Lee, 37, Gregory P. Warren, 51, Hector Eloy Guerra, 48, Thi Houng Le, 48, and Thi Hoaug Nguyen, 30.
According to the indictment, defendants fraudulently submitted more than 40,000 names as plaintiffs represented by Mikal Watts in litigation related to the oil spill. Officials said the defendants submitted the names knowing the individuals had not agreed to be represented by the firm.
The indictment alleges the total amount of claims submitted by Mikal Watts exceeded $2 billion. Out of 41 unnamed victims listed in the indictment, 18 are from the Coast.
"The defendants in this case are accused of exploiting a disaster relief program set up to help those who were injured or suffered an economic loss as a result of the BP oil spill the worst environmental disaster in American history," said U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis.
The defendants are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo at 1:30 p.m. Thursday for their initial appearances and arraignments.