On Thursday, The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico announced the formation of a Task Force that will be working against fraud related to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts and the following day they announced what appears to be the first case in the District of Puerto Rico related to Hurricane Irma’s relief efforts.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé authorized a criminal complaint against Philip Freed, charging him with impersonation of a federal law enforcement officer, entering an airport in violation of security requirements and false statements.
According to the criminal complaint, on Sept. 12, Philip Freed falsely pretended to be a law enforcement officer acting under the authority of the United States. Freed gained access to a federally restricted area of the Puerto Rico Airport and made materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to DSS special agents during the course of the investigation, all while portraying to be a federal law enforcement officer helping with Hurricane Irma’s relief efforts.
“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate this crime,” said Resident Agent in Charge Richard Hays of the DSS San Juan Resident Office. “Impersonating a federal law enforcement officer while our nation reels from the recent natural disasters is especially concerning. Our special agents – many of whom still do not have power in their homes – showed exceptional professionalism and dedication as they pursued this case.”
If convicted, Freed faces up to three years of in prison. A criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.