Clendenin man pleads guilty to defrauding FEMA of 2016 disaster relief funds

A Kanawha County man pled guilty to defrauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of 2016 disaster relief funds, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Randall Butler, 46, of Charleston, pled guilty to one count of fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.

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.

“Butler took advantage of a program designed to help people, not to fill up his personal piggy bank,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “The critical funding provided by FEMA was essential to rebuilding lives and communities throughout West Virginia. FEMA provides funds critical to recovery from natural disasters. This was greed and disaster not from any natural cause.”

“DHS OIG remains committed to investigating fraud that affects FEMA’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.”

Butler faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 6, 2020.

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. presided over the plea hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson is handling the prosecution.

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