Four accused of stealing property from Katrina ravaged gulf coast
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 20, 2006
Four people have been arrested and charged with property theft and receiving stolen property during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, according to information released on Friday by the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, the Butler County Sheriff's Office and the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Office.
The suspects, James Soloman Reaves, 51, James Michael Reaves, 26, Amanda Lynne Loftin, 21, and Cody Wilson Sorrells, 25, all of Greenville, are alleged to have stolen over $250,000 worth of property in New Orleans. The suspects were hired as sub-contractors for FEMA, according to officials.
“These people went in as people there to give help but were really predators there to steal what little property victims of Hurricane Katrina had left,” said Agricultural & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks during a press conference held at the Butler County Courthouse on Friday.
Items officials said were stolen included automobiles, automobile parts and trailers, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris said the four individuals have been released on $20,000 bond each and the grand jury will convene in March to view the evidence.
Sparks said the investigation is still on going and he expects additional arrests to be made.
“We have talked with officials in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida and feel like this is just the beginning,” said Sparks.
Harris said Butler County welcomed evacuees with open arms following the wrath of Hurricane Katrina and it “sickened” her to know there were people inside the county who would take advantage of others misfortune.
“It's the reason I joined this investigation,” she said.
Sparks praised both Harris and Crenshaw County Sheriff Charles West for joining his department in the investigation. He said the arrests were the result of the good that comes when agencies work together as a cohesive unit.
“I'm proud that our investigators were able to work together with Sheriff Harris and Sheriff West to catch these predators who would stoop so low as to take advantage of people in New Orleans after they had already gone through so much,” he said.
“We don't always get a chance to help each other out with investigations,” he said. “This time we did and I think it helped solve the case quickly to be able to work together.”