Two applying for Katrina relief arrested on warrantsWritten by Scott McKimmy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Two individuals who applied for Hurricane Katrina relief assistance at the American Red Cross in Toledo were arrested on outstanding warrants after a Toledo police officer ran their Social Security numbers, according to Kristen Cajka, communications manager for the American Red Cross, Greater Toledo Area Chapter.
The two persons entered as separate cases, she said, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but could not produce identification. Red Cross officials asked for Social Security numbers, which Officer Jerry Gears, who was on site for public safety purposes, entered into the police department’s database. Officer Gears is on vacation and unavailable for comment.
Capt. Diana Ruiz-Krause, with TPD public affairs/personnel, confirmed the arrests of two individuals Friday who were booked at the Northwest District Station on Sylvania Avenue, but could not release names pending verification of the warrants.
Cajka said the Red Cross now requires valid identification or documentation, such as a driver license or lease statement proving recipients’ residency in affected areas of the disaster.
“Early on in the disaster, we gave the client the benefit of the doubt. I like to think we always do that,” Cajka said. “What we found is that there are some people who are not actually residents of Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama — any of the affected areas. They are actually residents, perhaps of Toledo or somewhere other than the affected areas, that have come to us for hurricane relief assistance.”
To date, the Toledo area chapter has assisted 537 victims of Hurricane Katrina who have relocated to the Toledo area to stay with friends or family. She encouraged anyone with information about fraudulent claims to contact her office on Central Avenue near Secor Road.
“I can’t stress enough that if we hear of someone who has in fact taken money from the Red Cross who is not a legitimate hurricane victim, we will prosecute,” Cajka said. “We take this extremely seriously.”