Richard Lee Knight, Preston Ladnier Saucier, Jacob Wayne Innabinit, Peter Howard and Robert Smith were arrested on charges related to Katrina fraud. The crimes involving all five subjects were committed in Jackson County and the Jackson County District Attorney, Tony Lawrence, presented the cases to the Grand Jury. These arrests result from three investigations conducted by the special agents of the Katrina Fraud Prevention and Detection Unit, which is part of the State Auditor’s Office

Richard Lee Knight, 53, was indicted on the charge of felony home repair fraud. Knight lives in Natchez and was arrested by special agents with the State Auditor’s Office with the assistance of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Bond was set at $35,000. Knight received payments of $27,000 to repair a home in Gautier but did not complete the work and the work that was performed did not meet local, state or federal regulations or codes.

Preston Ladnier Saucier, 28, and Jacob Wayne Innabnit, 28, were indicted on the charges of felony false pretense. Saucier and Innabnit are both from Mobile, Ala. and were doing business as AfterMath Construction. They were arrested by special agents with the State Auditor’s Office and processed by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Bond was set at $5,000 for each. They were contracted to perform work on at a residence in Ocean Springs, following damage done by Hurricane Katrina. Saucier and Innabinit collected a $4,000 deposit on the residence and that work was never started.

Peter Howard, 48, and Robert Smith, 52, were indicted on charges of Home Repair Fraud. Howard lives in Gulf Shores, Ala. and Smith in Theodore, Ala. After being arrested by the State Auditor’s Office, both were processed by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. Bond was set at $10,000 each. Howard and Smith were doing business as Pelican Bay Custom Homes. The complaint filed states that Pelican Bay Custom Homes was paid $284,188 to construct a modular home on property in Pascagoula. The owner claims that the modular home was delivered but never assembled. Howard and Smith were both arrested by the State Auditor’s Office in June 2008 for felony false pretense after taking a deposit for a modular home that was never constructed.

“These five arrests represent a large effort by our Katrina Fraud Prevention and Detection Unit to hold contractors accountable for work performed following Hurricane Katrina,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. Our investigators worked diligently to prepare the cases for District Attorney Tony Lawrence, and I appreciate the DA’s help along with the Jackson and Adams County Sheriffs’ Offices in processing the arrests.”

Since taking office January 10, State Auditor Stacey Pickering has recovered $1,782,248.72 in misappropriated, misused or embezzled taxpayer funds.

The Katrina Fraud Prevention and Detection Unit of the State Auditor’s Office is funded by a Community Development Block Grant received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development which passed through the Mississippi Development Authority.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release
12/5/8