Kanawha County Man Sentenced for Defrauding FEMA of 2016 Disaster Relief Funds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mike Stuart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, announced that a Kanawha County man was sentenced today for defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of 2016 disaster relief funds. Randall Butler, 46, of Charleston, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison for fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.  Butler pled guilty to the charge in July 2020 and pursuant to his plea agreement, he also agreed to pay $8,614 in restitution.

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“As taxpayers, we all suffer when federal assistance programs are defrauded,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “We will not tolerate fraud when our state is struck by natural disaster and West Virginians need critical relief funds to recover and rebuild.  We will work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that fraudsters are prosecuted and federal assistance reaches those who are truly in need and eligible to receive federal dollars.”

“DHS OIG remains committed to investigating fraud that affects the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief programs,” said Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari. “Furthermore, we are thankful to our colleagues at the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations for their assistance in this investigation.”

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At the time of the historic 2016 floods, Butler was living in an apartment in Clendenin, an area where FEMA was authorized to provide assistance to affected residents, including rental assistance. After the flood and a brief stay in a rescue shelter, Butler and his family moved to an apartment in Charleston. Butler admitted that he applied for FEMA relief funds for displaced housing even though he knew he was not allowed to receive the FEMA monies, because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had submitted rental payments on his behalf. Butler further admitted that he had received approximately $8,600 from FEMA for rental assistance, even though he had not been paying the rent himself.

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The Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) and the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations conducted the investigation. Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson handled the prosecution.

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A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-cr-00079.