NU Online News Service, March 25, 10:42 a.m. – Twenty-two people have been charged with falsely filing for death certificates claiming that members of their family died in the attacks on the World Trade Center so they could obtain emergency relief funds.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the charges, filed last week.

In total, 14 of the defendants obtained $759,465 in relief funds based on fraudulent claims; the other eight defendants were caught before they received any money, according to the New York State Insurance Department.

Thirteen of the defendants are from the metropolitan New York area; the other nine are from Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Houston, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Utah, Puerto Rico and China, according to the department.

Individually, the defendants received emergency funds ranging from $1,000 to $272,800 from the American Red Cross, Safe Horizon, the Social Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency by lying about the deaths of husbands, wives, children, nieces, nephews and siblings, the department says.

The arrests are the result of a three-month long multi-agency investigation. As a result of the investigation, 17 of the cases will be prosecuted by the district attorney’s office and six will be prosecuted by the attorney general’s office.