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Attorney: Chico man pleads guilty for filing false claim for FEMA benefits after Camp Fire

A Chico man pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud in connection with a major disaster, acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.

Posted: May 11, 2021 11:00 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A Chico man pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud in connection with a major disaster, acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.

Following the 2018 Camp Fire, FEMA disaster assistance funds were available to qualified individuals who had emergency needs for housing, food, and other necessities due to losses incurred by the fire.

To qualify for assistance based on home ownership, an applicant must have resided in the damaged home as their primary residence at the time of the fire.

32-year-old Evan Palmer pleaded guilty to making a false statement in a claim for FEMA disaster assistance in connection with the Camp Fire.

According to court documents, on Dec. 17, 2018, Palmer filed a false claim with FEMA seeking disaster assistance funds for a travel trailer in Paradise that he claimed was his primary residence at the time of the Camp Fire.

Palmer owned the travel trailer, however, it was not his primary residence at the time of the fire. Palmer was living in a home that he leased in Chico, Attorney Talbert said.

As a result of Palmer’s false statement, he received $26,490 in FEMA disaster benefits, which was to be used to repair or replace Palmer’s primary residence and to assist with two months of temporary rental housing.

Palmer is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Aug. 17.

He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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We'll be sunny with slightly above average temperatures again on Wednesday afternoon. The threat of thunderstorms will keep our fire danger high today, with more widespread thunderstorms Thursday. Dangerous heat returns this weekend and will persist through at least the start of next week.
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