Two suspects who allegedly conned the Santa Monica Chapter of the American Red Cross out of hundreds of dollars by posing as Hurricane Katrina victims, have been charged with felonies, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman.

The county district attorney Wednesday, September 28th, charged Laurette Ollar Karaba, 32, a transient, and Derrek Orlando Wilkerson, 37, of Canoga Park, each with one count of second-degree burglary and two counts of grand theft of property valued at over $400, a court spokeswoman said.

Karaba and Wilkerson were arraigned at the county Superior Court Airport Courthouse and remain in custody.

They pleaded not guilty to all charges, the spokeswoman said.

Santa Monica police arrested Karaba and Wilkerson Monday, September 26th, and booked them in Santa Monica Jail for burglary, grand theft, obtaining money under false pretenses, conspiracy and probation violation.

Police were called to the Red Cross Santa Monica chapter in the 1400 block of 11th Street, at 1:30 p.m. September 26th, where a Red Cross employee alleged to police that Karaba had told the Red Cross chapter September 14th that she was a victim of Hurricane Katrina and was in need of financial and housing support.

Karaba allegedly applied for and received a hotel voucher valued at $665 and additional cash for miscellaneous expenses from the Red Cross chapter, police said.

Karaba had also allegedly claimed that she purchased a home in New Orleans that was destroyed as a result of Hurricane Katrina, police said.

But inquiries into various computer databases revealed that neither Karaba nor Wilkerson had any ties to the Louisiana area, police allege.

The next court hearing for the two suspects is scheduled for Wednesday, October 5th, the Superior Court spokeswoman said.

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