Man accused of making a $2.3M fraudulent oil spill claim

A North Carolina resident was arrested yesterday for allegedly making a fraudulent claim on the fund set up to compensate victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

According to the Justice Department, Michael R. Rosella, 45, of Wilmington, North Carolina, was arrested in connection with an indictment returned last week and unsealed following his arrest.

The indictment by a grand jury in the District of Columbia charges Rosella with one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

According to allegations in the indictment, Rosella, who lived in the District of Columbia in 2010, submitted a claim for compensation in the amount of $2.3 million to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), the entity that formerly handled claims for persons and businesses injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Fictitious Resort

Rosella allegedly submitted the claim on behalf of a fictitious entity called the Bayou Barataria Sportsmen’s Resort, which Rosella allegedly represented to have been a successful hotel and sport fishing business in Louisiana immediately before the spill, and to have suffered lost profits due to the spill’s impact on the Gulf of Mexico.

The documents submitted by Rosella allegedly included false affidavits of the Resort’s “owners,” federal tax filings, state sales tax records, financial statements, and invoices.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the Department of Justice has said.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Gary A. Winters of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

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