Earlier today we had hurricane victims ripping off the feds and the sacred cow of Oprah Winfrey; now we have hurricane victims allegedly ripping off the feds with virtual cows.
Six people were indicted today on charges that they told the federal government they had more than 500 cows that were swept off High Island during Hurricane Rita, an imaginary disaster for which they received $390,000 from the Livestock Indemnity Program.
The Livestock Indemnity Program's pamphlets damn well better state clearly that "All cattle must be real," or the feds are going to have a hell of a time proving their case.
Arrested today at their various homes were Mark Wittliff, 52, of Houston; Richard Roberson, 61, of Port Arthur; and Jackie Hanna, 59, Donald Loiacano, 57, his wife Pamela Loiacano, 54, and his brother Anthony Loiacano Jr., 56, all of Beaumont.
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The feds say they were members of the non-profit High Island Cattle Association and learned of the bonanza that could come from inventing cows.
[A]fter the defendants learned of the LIP, the defendants conspired to and misrepresented to the FSA that hundreds of cattle were swept away into the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Rita. The co-conspirators used various statements from one another, according to the indictment, to support their claims of more than 500 non-existent cattle that had supposedly drowned in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Even through their claims were initially denied, according to the indictment, the defendants supplied additional false documentation to the FSA which ultimately resulted in the defendants receiving a total of more than $390,000 in connection with these false claims.
At least our nightmares of helpless cattle, mournfully lowing their way out into the Gulf, can be eased.
The defendants five five years in prison and a fine.