Jacksonville, Florida – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Jessica Ann Smothers (35, Fernandina Beach) with disaster assistance fraud involving Hurricane Irma. If convicted, Smothers faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, plus payment of restitution to the United States. Smothers was arrested on November 4, 2019. She has been detained pending her January 6, 2020 trial.
According to the indictment, Smothers made a fraudulent application for assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program from Hurricane Irma, in which she falsely represented that she was in need of rental assistance due to storm damage to her primary residence.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Fernandina Beach Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.
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