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HOUSTON — A 22-year-old Houston resident is set to appear in federal court on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery has announced.
Desiree Coleman is scheduled to make her first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo at 2 p.m.
Coleman is charged with one count of conspiracy. She allegedly filed bogus online applications for government assistance in exchange for fees from March to December 2020. Some included funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for rentals, personal property and basic needs, according to the charges.
Criminal information alleges the funds were designed for disaster relief.
As part of the plot, Coleman also allegedly helped others apply for unemployment claims and economic disaster loans for certain businesses and nonprofits affected by the pandemic.
If found guilty, she faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted the investigation with assistance from the Department of Labor-OIG, Secret Service (FEMA) and the Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rodolfo Ramirez is pursuing the case.
A criminal information is a formal charge of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted in due process.