SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A federal grand jury indicted two women from Butte County for FEMA fraud after the Camp Fire.
The Department of Justice said Cynthia Seeley 66, of Magalia, and Kristen Canapary, 53, of Butte County, both made false claims that they lived in affected areas for FEMA benefits in connection with the Camp Fire, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
“In 2018, in the aftermath of the Carr and Camp Fires, we encouraged the public to report any suspected fraudulent activity and promised to aggressively pursue and prosecute fraud and abuse," said U.S. Attorney Scott.
Following the 2018 Camp and Carr Fires, FEMA assistance was available to individuals who had emergency needs for food, shelter, and personal items. To qualify for certain benefits, an individual’s primary residence—the place where the individual resided at the time of the fire—had to have been destroyed or damaged by the fire, among other eligibility criteria.
According to court documents, Seeley and Canapary each filed a fraudulent claim with FEMA seeking disaster assistance.
They falsely claimed a primary residence that was not their true residence at the time of the fire, according to U.S. Attorney Scott. Seeley falsely claimed she rented a residence located at 13756 Eureka Road in Magalia and received $11,604.79 in cash benefits from FEMA. Scott said Canapary falsely claimed that she rented a home located at 1555 Sylvan Way in Paradise, and received $8,973.05 in cash benefits as well as temporary housing provided by FEMA.
If convicted, Seeley and Canapary, each face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Scott said these indictments are the result of ongoing investigations into disaster fraud related to the California wildfires.
"In December 2019, six defendants were indicted for making a false statement about their primary residence in an application for FEMA assistance in connection with the Camp Fire: Patrick Prigmore, 2:19-cr-226; Daniel Connelly, 2:19-cr-223; Evan Palmer, 19-cr-225; Deborah Laughlin, 2:19-cr-229; Kristy Marie Tapp, 19-cr-227; and Andrew Keffer, 19-cr-228. Prigmore and Connelly have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The whereabouts of Kristy Marie Tapp, 34, and Andrew Keffer, 44, are unknown," according to Scott. "If anyone has information about Keffer’s or Tapp’s whereabouts, they can call DHS-OIG’s duty line at (619) 235-2514."