Riverside Police Department Press Release


For Immediate Release

Date October 25, 2005
Contact Sergeant Leon Phillips
Phone (951) 320-8061


More Katrina Relief Fraud



Riverside, Ca- On October 18th, 2005, a female subject entered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) Hurricane Assistance Center located at 6221 Box Springs Blvd, Riverside, CA. The center assists persons and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The female identified herself as a 10-year resident of Baton Rouge, LA and claimed to have lost her home due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She also claimed that her adult son was killed in the Disaster while saving a baby in the flood. She completed F.E.M.A., American Red Cross, and Salvation Army applications for emergency assistance. The application would allow her access to funds in excess of $26,000.00. F.E.M.A., American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army are a few of the agencies that pay these emergency funds. The subject was being fed, clothed, and housed by these agencies since October 18th.

The Riverside Salvation Army contacted the Riverside Police Department, stating they discovered the female subject had several different names and aliases associated with her identity. The Salvation Army learned this information while attempting to contact family members. Detectives from the Economic Crimes Unit arrived at the Hurricane Assistance Center to conduct the investigation and determined that the subject given a false address as her home in Louisiana, and that she had not been affected by the hurricane nor did she lose her son in the disaster.

Detectives arrested Janice M. Merkerson, 46, of Wisconsin for charges of submitting false documents in a government office, 2nd degree burglary, and grand theft by fraud. She was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. This is the third F.E.M.A. Fraud arrest made by the Riverside Police Department Economic Crimes Unit since the Katrina Disaster.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is urged to contact Detective Brian Money at (951) 320-8050.