A mother and daughter admitted they tricked federal officials into paying them thousands of dollars by saying they lived in Louisiana and suffered property damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when they actually were living in government-subsidized housing in Brooklyn Park.
Vianca McCarter, 30, who now lives in Kenner, La., pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul to theft of public money, namely stealing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). McCarter was charged two weeks ago.
In her plea agreement, McCarter admitted that on Sept. 12, 2005, two weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, she told FEMA that she lived in New Orleans when the storm hit, her residence and personal property had been damaged, and she needed emergency rental assistance benefits.
In fact, she lived in housing with her mother that was subsidized by the Metropolitan Council from October 2004 through November 2009.
Based on McCarter's application for help, FEMA gave her $34,102 over a two-year period.
Her mother, Rena McCarter, 62, also of Kenner, La., netted $8,600 in her false application for help. She pleaded guilty Friday to the same charge.
Vianca McCarter's attorney, Mary M. Mateer, declined to say anything about the case except that her client is "a nice, young woman with a lot on her plate."
Both women face a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, as well as possible fines. Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.