- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - A Lake Charles woman has pleaded guilty to mail fraud for a scheme to file false settlement claims involving the BP oil spill.

U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley says 43-year-old Yvette Kocik pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi.

According to the plea, Kocik approached current and former employees of Steamboat Bill’s seafood restaurant asking them to use their employee documents so she could file claims on their behalf. Kocik’s mother owns the restaurant and she performs bookkeeping services.

Finley’s office says Kocik’s oil spill claims stated the employees lost earnings and work hours when they had not. She kept a portion of the $104,655 awarded to the employees.

Kocik faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Sentencing is set for Oct. 22.

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