Two people face charges for posing as hurricane refugees

September 17,2005 - Posted at 1:30 p.m. CDT

ASH FLAT, AR - Sharp County officials say a couple faces theft by deception charges after they received assistance as refugees from Hurricane Katrina, which they weren't.

Authorities said the couple was traveling through Arkansas and decided to apply for hurricane assistance because they were low on money.The two charged were identified as 19-year-old Sean MichaelSparks of Columbus, Ohio, and 35-year-old Renee L- Older of WinterPark, Florida. They told authorities that Hurricane Katrina had displaced them from their home in New Orleans.

Salvation Army volunteers running a relief effort at the Ash Flat Church of Christ became suspicious when Older arrived providing a Florida driver's license, but driving a vehicle with an Ohio license plate. Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said the two gained assistance for motel rooms, medical treatment, prescription drugs and clothing from the Salvation Army. The benefits totaled more than a thousand dollars.

The two were taken to the Sharp County Jail, and bond was set for five-thousand dollars each.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)