Posted on November 4, 2005

Red Cross Money Used for Drugs (Atlanta), Nov. 4

Three New Orleans men arrested on drug charges at a Gwinnett County hotel told officers that they supported their drug habit with money from the American Red Cross and FEMA, police said.

The men were staying for free at the Amberley Suites Hotel on Oakbrook Parkway in Norcross by claiming to be evacuees. The three were first approached by officers who were called there to investigate a shooting. While the three were found not to be connected to the shooting, they were found with drugs and arrested, police said.

When officers asked the three men how they could afford to stay at the hotel, they responded that they obtained free hotel rooms easily just by displaying a Louisiana identification. One of the men, 20-year-old Michael Joseph Sanson, stated that he had a fraudulent ID card, according to police. He also had $600 that he said was obtained from the Red Cross.

A second suspect, 23-year-old Gary Lee Leonard, told authorities he had two hotel rooms and one home in Stone Mountain. He said he supported his $20-a-day drug habit with money from FEMA and the Red Cross but that he needed the money to “start over.” Leonard stated that he and others like him deserved the money because they are from New Orleans.

Sanson, Leonard, and 22-year-old Ronald Michael Claude have been charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana, and one felony count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. They are being held in jail without bond as police work to see if they can be charged with any other crimes.

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