A St. Thomas man who admitted that he tried to profit off the 2017 hurricanes has been given another 18 months in which to complete a pretrial diversion program, according to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court.
Te’ron Stevens, 28, was the first person criminally indicted in connection with the 2017 hurricanes. He was charged with one count of disaster fraud and three counts of wire fraud after he claimed homeownership for a Lindbergh Bay house he did not own, court documents show.
Stevens, whose first name is also spelled Teron in court documents, filed a federal disaster assistance claim on Sept. 15, nine days after Hurricane Irma stormed through St. Thomas and St. John, according to the indictment.
After he claimed the property as his own, Stevens collected $3,756 in rental assistance, $5,983.79 of personal property assistance, and $17,791.46 in home repair assistance, according to the indictment.
All of the funds were sent via electronic funds transfer to Stevens’ personal bank account, and the amount of the fraud totals $27,531.25, according to the indictment.
If convicted of the charges, Stevens could potentially face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert’s office after the indictment was unsealed in June 2018.
On October 18, 2018, Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Edwards wrote in a motion to delay trial that prosecutors offered — and had Stevens accepted — a pretrial diversion agreement.
Stevens “agreed that he knowingly obtained disaster funds from FEMA to which he was not entitled,” and “agreed not to contest the June 19, 2018 seizure of funds from his bank account, pursuant to a seizure warrant,” according to a memorandum by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett.
Authorities seized $19,018.04 from Stevens’ bank account, and Hewlett asked U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez in a motion filed April 7 to order the U.S. Marshals to release those funds “to apply toward the loss amount owed to FEMA.”
Stevens’ 18-month pretrial diversion program would have ended Saturday — if he had successfully completed all of the terms and conditions of his agreement with prosecutors, according to a motion filed Friday by Edwards.
“To date, however, the defendant has not paid back the full amount of restitution, nor has he completed the required number of community service hours,” Edwards wrote.
Prosecutors and the U.S. Probation Office have given Stevens an additional 18 months to fulfill the agreement, and prosecutors will dismiss the charges against him if he does, Edwards wrote.
Gomez granted Edwards’ motion to postpone the trial to Oct. 13, 2021, to allow Stevens time to complete the terms of his non-prosecution agreement.