FBI, FEMA announce arrests in alleged $70,000 relief fund scheme - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

FBI, FEMA announce arrests in alleged $70,000 relief fund scheme

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ALBANY, N.Y.--A joint investigation between the FBI and FEMA resulted in the arrest of four individuals on Wednesday.

Darnell Ellis, Diana Shkolnik, Robert Gesuele, and Edward Valentin were arrested for allegedly submitting individual false and fraudulent applications to obtain Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief funds and then received such benefits from the federal government.

As detailed in their applications, each defendant claimed that their primary residences were affected by Hurricane Sandy, and as a result, they were seeking financial assistance.

Officials say the investigation identified that at the time they submitted their FEMA applications, defendants Ellis, Shkolnik, and Valentin were not living in the storm-affected residences identified in their paperwork. The fourth defendant, Gesuele, submitted a FEMA application for a residence he was illegally occupying and did not rent or own.

"FEMA R2 will continue to work with our close federal partners, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General, to identify fraud and misuse of disaster relief funds and to leverage each such violation as a clear message of deterrence to anyone considering the misuse of relief and disaster funds," said FEMA Regional Administrator Jerome Hatfield.

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