Florida City Man Pleads Guilty to BP Oil Spill Fraud

Eliu Gonzalez submitted over $100,000 in false claims from oil spill: Prosecutors

By Brian Hamacher
|  Thursday, Oct 20, 2011  |  Updated 8:32 AM EDT
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Wednesday marked one year since the start of the Gulf oil disaster, sparking the worst oil spill in U.S. history. South Floridians who make their living in the water are still feeling the pinch.

Wednesday marked one year since the start of the Gulf oil disaster, sparking the worst oil spill in U.S. history. South Floridians who make their living in the water are still feeling the pinch.

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A Florida City man is facing 20 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to filing a false claim for lost income from the BP oil spill Wednesday.

Eliu Gonzalez, 37, also faces a fine of up to $250,000 after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge, according to a release from the U.S. Justice Department.

He's scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Prosecutors say Gonzalez filed a claim for $110,616 in lost income last October, months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

In June 2010, BP established the Gulf Coast Claims Facility to administer, mediate and settle claims by individuals and businesses for losses resulting from the oil pollution.

To support his claim, prosecutors said Gonzalez submitted receipts to the GCCF from sales of yellow tail snapper to a Miami fish market in the months before the explosion.

He also claimed ownership of a fishing vessel, the "Trudi Ann II," and said the "dramatic impact of the oil spill"  was a financial hardship that resulted in the loss of income and profit for his commercial fishing business.

Gonzalez admitted the claims were false, prosecutors said. He is the first person in South Florida to be convicted of a Deepwater Horizon fraud.

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