Mississippi mayor indicted in Hurricane Katrina fraud scheme

GULFPORT -- Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura, quietly cried in the corridor of the U.S. District courthouse mere blocks from City Hall after they were each indicted on 16 charges, including conspiracy, fraud and making false statements to obtain a total of $222,798.10 in federal Katrina relief and insurance funds.

The Warrs pleaded innocent to the charges in U.S. District Court this morning. They flanked their attorney, Joe Sam Owen of Gulfport, as they stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Roper.

Gulfport’s first couple potentially faces maximum penalties of 210 years each in prison and fines of up to $4 million each. The government also is seeking forfeiture of their Katrina and insurance funds, or assets of equal value.

Each of them was specifically charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of fraud, four counts of making false statements, three counts of wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud. They were released on unsecured bonds of $25,000 each.

The indictment outlines relief the Warrs received for their beachfront mansion from Sept. 15, 2005, through March 7, 2007. They are charged with conspiring to falsely claim they lived in the beachfront home when they hadn't actually moved in before the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

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