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La. fire chief pleads guilty to fraudulently obtaining FEMA grants

SHREVEPORT, La. — United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Curtis Roller, 57, of Jonesboro, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter to three counts of wire fraud after illegally obtaining Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants and making false statements on workers compensation forms.

According to evidence presented in the indictment and the guilty plea hearing, from Jan. 1, 2002 to Dec. 31, 2010, Roller submitted false information on grant applications he sent to FEMA so that fire departments in Louisiana and Arkansas were eligible to receive federal funds, which could be used to purchase equipment from his company, Louisiana Firefighting Services. Roller is accused of inflating population data, agency coverage areas and numbers of responded calls on the FEMA grant applications.

He also is accused of overstating the type of calls responded to, under-reporting the size of budgets and increasing the scope of their needs on the applications. It is against FEMA rules and policies for a grant
writer to financially benefit from money awarded.

Roller faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution for each count of wire fraud. Sentencing was set for September 18, 2014.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Service/Office of Inspector General, and the U.S.Department of Labor/Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Campbell is prosecuting the case.

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