Houston Hurricane Harvey Relief scam: Man fraudulently got $314K home

Christopher Montealegre confessed to fraudulently obtaining a newly rebuilt house worth $314,000 from Hurricane Harvey assistance, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced.

The 45-year-old Houston resident admitted to one count of theft of government funds after he knowingly applied for disaster relief through a program managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He received a newly rebuilt house through assistance intended for victims of Hurricane Harvey and funded by federal dollars allocated for disaster recovery.

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"Christopher Montealegre exploited a program intended to assist vulnerable victims of Hurricane Harvey and used those funds for his own personal enrichment," Hamdani stated. "Public resources for disaster relief should go to the victims that actually need them, not to enrich private actors like Montealegre."

In response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, Congress designated special funds for Texas under a Presidentially Declared Disaster. These funds aim to support the rebuilding of stronger and more resilient communities.


"Montealegre’s alleged conduct is disturbing, especially during this time when the public is reminded of the devastation that historic storms leave with thousands of victims," Special Agent in Charge Bertrand Nelson of HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), Southcentral Region, expressed. "The taxpayer has no tolerance for those who steal from Federal public aid – the sole goal of which is to help victims rebuild and move forward with their lives. We will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office to aggressively pursue fraudsters who steal disaster grant funds to enrich themselves."

Montealegre faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a potential maximum fine of $250,000. He remains out on bond pending his sentencing which is scheduled for Aug. 8.