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FEMA workers arrested on fraud, bribery charges

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Death toll rises after body found in rubble

Friday, January 27, 2006; Posted: 10:02 p.m. EST (03:02 GMT)

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Two temporary employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency were arrested after soliciting bribes from a contractor supplying food for residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the FBI announced Friday.

Andrew Rose and Lloyd Holleman, who ran a FEMA camp near New Orleans, asked for a $20,000 bribe in exchange for inflating the catering contract, Justice Department officials in Washington said.

The contractor notified authorities, said Matt Chapman of the FBI, which began an investigation with the Department of Homeland Security in December.

The contractor, whose name was not released, gave Rose and Holleman $10,000 each Friday, and the men were arrested and charged with soliciting bribes and fraud, officials said.

The Colorado men also sought $2,500 a week from the catering contractor, the FBI said.

This is the first known case of FEMA employees being arrested on fraud charges after Katrina, but officials in other public agencies have been charged, said Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In a written statement, FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said, "We have no tolerance for fraud -- not against FEMA, not against the American taxpayer, our partners, and certainly not against the victims of these hurricanes."

Death toll rises
Also Friday, the body of another Hurricane Katrina victim was found east of New Orleans and taken to a medical examiner's office, an official said.

Make Louisiana's running total 1,104.

No information was available on who found the body under the debris of a home in storm-ravaged St. Bernard Parish, but Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical examiner, recently asked that recovery crews and their cadaver dogs resume the search for bodies.

"The number of human remains that I have doesn't match the number of missing, which means there are either human remains that have either been washed away or are still out there waiting to be discovered," Cataldie said.

Authorities planned to send the body found Friday to St. Gabriel, just outside the capital, Baton Rouge, where a state medical team is trying to identify bodies.

The state's decision to stop searching for victims in October was met with criticism from St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens, who said the state failed to fully search some of the most devastated areas, where many elderly residents lived.

The levees did not give way in St. Bernard Parish when Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast on August 29, but water came over the dams, and the parish was subjected to flooding similar to that in New Orleans.

The storm killed more than 1,200 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Close to 2,700 people are on a missing persons list kept by the state, Cataldie said. He urged anyone who fled the hurricane to return to their homes and help search for missing friends and relatives.

"I've been at some of those addresses, and some of those are just slabs, which means there's more concern that there are more people in the debris," Cataldie said. "I think there are human remains in the debris, and we're going to have to very gingerly remove that debris to find them."

It also is likely that some of those on the list have been found alive but the state hasn't been notified, some officials have said.

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