Dunsmuir man sentenced in $1.2 million fire protection grant fraud case
A Dunsmuir man was sentenced to a year and one day in prison on Monday, Oct. 17 after pleading guilty to seven counts of fraud, resulting in more than $1 million intended to help communities fight fires, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Samuel Thomas Lanier, 40 — the former CEO of the Dunsmuir tech company FireWhat — was charged with submitting false reimbursement requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency from June 2013 to March 2018, the Department of Justice said. His requests were for federal money awarded to Siskiyou and Shasta County Fire Chiefs Associations to recruit and train firefighters.
“This fraud scheme siphoned vital federal funds from fire departments supporting communities devastated by wildfires," said Inspector Joseph Cuffari General at the Department of Homeland Security. Lanier was charged with "misappropriated over $1.2 million by both submitting false reimbursement requests to FEMA and diverting additional funds that should have been used to support the firefighters."
Lanier pleaded guilty to the charges on June 3, 2019, according to court documents.
The grants are supposed to help the recipients "maintain 24-hour staffing" at fire departments in places at high risk of wildfire, Department of Justice Public Affairs Officer Lauren Horwood said in a press release. "Lanier was hired by the Fire Chiefs Associations to administer these grants."
Read more:Dunsmuir man pleads guilty to FEMA fraud
Lanier will face a restitution hearing scheduled on Dec. 12, the Department of Justice said.
In August, 2017, Lanier stepped down as CEO of FireWhat. Now defunct, the company's mission statement was “to bring innovation to the technology-deprived industry of wildfire response.”
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and entertainment stories. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic and on Facebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today. Thank you.