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Lawrenceville woman pleads guilty to stealing hurricane relief funds

ATLANTA — A Lawrenceville woman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining funds intended for hurricane victims.

Angela Pratt Avery, 45, entered her guilty plea to a single count of theft of government Tuesday in federal court. Along with two co-defendants from Pennsylvania, Avery was accused of filing for and receiving more than $50,000 in disaster relief funds issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the wake of Hurricane Ike, which caused widespread damage along the gulf coast in 2008.

All three defendants — Avery, 57-year-old John Wheeler and 49-year-old Melody Lockett Carter — were living in Norcross at the time of the storm.

“These defendants lied by claiming they were victims of Hurrican Ike in 2008 and, based on those lies, stole over $50,000 in disaster relief funds that were intended for the true victims,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a news release. “The Disaster Fraud Task Force was created in 2005 to target those fraudsters who would seek to turn the tragedy of a natural disaster into an opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the American people.”

Wheeler and Carter entered their own guilty pleas in January. As of Tuesday, sentencing had not been scheduled for any of the three defendants.