New Orleans, La. – Letten says the statute of limitations for fraud is normally five years, but time constraints on prosecutors filing a case don't depend solely on when the fraudulent claim was first made.
"It also might not begin to run until funds are dispersed, or proceeds are actually -- if they're hidden or if there's any additional concealment done. So computing statues of limitations looks easy but it can be rather difficult, it'll be a little tricky."
Letten announced the 22 unrelated cases as a warning to anyone considering a scam to get money set aside for compensating legitimate claims linked to the BP oil spill.
"Whether it's during the Katrina evolution or whether it's during, let's say, now, that we're in the midst of the beginning of a recovery process after the spill where a lot of money's going to be available out there .Theft is theft"
Letten says his office has brought felony charges against 182 people accused of Hurricane Katrina fraud, and has a 100 percent conviction rate. The latest cases range from a New Orleans woman accused of scamming $439,000 dollars in government funds, to two Hammond women accused of each getting four checks totaling $3,500 from the Red Cross when they should have gotten only one.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.