Deborah Sherman and Nicole Vap, 9News (Denver), Dec. 1
DENVER — A 9NEWS I-Team investigation has revealed four Colorado residents have been posing as hurricane evacuees from the Gulf Coast.
The Mile High Red Cross Chapter told 9NEWS it’s investigating six other suspicious evacuees in Colorado.
“I’m thankful I’m living,” wailed Rhoda Gray to reporters visiting her at her new apartment in Denver. Gray said her home was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina Aug. 30. Her brother Roosevelt Gray, sister Lindetta Brewer and friend Antoinette Allen were apparently also left homeless.
“We couldn’t take all of our belongings with us. So we took what we could, like our food and clothing, and got out,” said Gray.
But without a car, Gray’s daughter said they sought shelter in the Louisiana Superdome. There, she and her family got a car and drove to Denver to stay with her brother who lived here, according to Gray.
But Gray’s story didn’t hold up to weeks of fact-checking by the 9NEWS I-Team. Records show all four of them are long time Colorado residents and have state identification cards or a driver’s license. Still, Rhoda, Lindetta and Antoinette have received free rent, utilities, RTD bus passes, food, clothing and as much as $1,500 on debit cards from agencies like the Mile High Red Cross Chapter and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They asked for the assistance when they checked into the shelter at the former Lowry Air Force Base in early September, claiming to be from New Orleans. Roosevelt Gray registered himself as Gray Roosevelt, according to the Colorado database of evacuees.
Court and police records show the so-called evacuees have been in and out of jails in Colorado over the past decade. Property records list them at living at various addresses around Denver and Aurora since the early 1970’s. For the last year, Roosevelt has been living on South Victor Way in Aurora, according to his next-door neighbor Katie Maver.