Multiple California counties, including Clearlake Oaks County, were affected by severe storms during the winter of February 2017. Throughout the state, various counties experienced significant flooding and mudslides. The situation was bad enough that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared a major disaster.
This declaration made it possible for counties to seek reimbursement assistance from the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and FEMA. One of the counties that applied for assistance was Clearlake Oaks County Water District (the District). However, by the time the District received assistance from FEMA and Cal OES, it had already received reimbursement payments from its insurer, California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (CJPIA).
The District should have returned the reimbursement assistance to FEMA and Cal OES. According to allegations from the United States, the District was fully aware that the funds they received from FEMA and Cal OES were an overpayment that they were not entitled to keep. However, the District did not return that funding.
Keeping that funding was a violation of the False Claims Act. According to a news report, further false statements were made by the District in the quarterly reports. According to the United States, the District claimed that they were entitled to the full amount of funding they received and that there were no excess funds received.
The U.S. Attorney’s office, along with the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been aggressively investigating and prosecuting those attempting to commit fraud and keep funding they are not entitled to.