Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014
Cairo Police Chief Faces Disaster Relief Fraud Charges
ALEXANDER COUNTY -- The Cairo police chief has found himself on the other side of the law.
A grand jury indicted Bernard Brown, 48, of filing false disaster relief claims with FEMA. The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security. He's set to stand trial in February.
FEMA was contacted over and over again about Brown's house in Cairo with a story that it was damaged during the severe flooding of 2011.
From September of 2011 to June of 2012, Brown allegedly sent five different faxes to FEMA. The faxes asked for money to cover his relocation expenses. Brown claimed his house on 26th Street needed repairs, and he had been forced to move into a rental home on 3rd Street.
A federal indictment filed earlier this month says those claims were false. The documents also explain Brown never left the house on 26th Street.
Brown is charged with four counts of making false statements and one count of disaster relief fraud.
News 3 made a visit to Brown's home on 26th Street. No one there answered the door.
At the house on 3rd Street, a family explained they didn't know Brown. They said they had been staying there for two years.
News 3 also stopped by the Cairo Police Department and City Hall. Staff said it was a personal matter and that Brown was not available. They added that Brown wouldn't be back to work until after Christmas.
If he's convicted, Brown could face up to five years in prison for the false statements and up to 30 years in prison for fraud.
"A federal grand jury in Benton, Illinois, has charged Bernard F. Brown, 48, Cairo, Illinois, with false statements to federal officials and disaster relief fraud offenses, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
The indictment charges Brown with four counts of making false statements and one count of disaster relief fraud during 2011 and 2012. The false statement charges carry a potential sentence of up to five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release. The disaster relief fraud charge carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to 5 years supervised release.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.
Brown's trial is set for February 21, 2014, at the U.S. District Court in Benton, Illinois.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security and the case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas E. Leggans."
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