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Guilty Plea in Oil Spill Fraud case

A Mississippi man could spend twenty years in prison for his part in a scheme to defraud the oil spill recovery effort. The Biloxi Sun Herald reports Shawn Townsel pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges of lying about his past employment to get $25,800 in oil-spill recovery money. Prosecutors say Townsel received the money after claiming he lost work as a first-class painter/blaster with Northrop Grumman/Peyton Sandblasting & Painting in Pascagoula and in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Townsel also gave the Gulf Coast Claims Facility false documentation, including an income tax return and a letter from his alleged employer. Court documents show Townsel made the fraudulent claims after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill of April 2010, and received a check for his recovery money in the mail. His sentencing is set for March.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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