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Dolly Parton
FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2016 file photo, Dolly Parton poses in the press room with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award during the 50th annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. Parton is one of several country stars who will be honored by the Academy of Country Music during a television special later this year. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Five people are accused of conspiring to defraud Dolly Parton's wildfire relief fund


Five people are accused of conspiring to defraud the My People Fund that singer Dolly Parton set up to benefit those affected by last year's devastating Tennessee wildfires.

A Sevier County grand jury has charged Debra Kay Catlett; her son, Chad Alan Chambers; Rocco Boscalia; Annie Lyons; and Esther Pridemore, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. All five suspects face charges including money laundering, criminal conspiracy and felony theft.

The Knoxville News Sentinel obtained records showing that Catlett had worked as a real estate photographer in the area affected by the wildfires. Because of that, she had a database of information about rental cabins in the area.

With that information, the group of scammers allegedly drew up fake leases using property tax records in order to obtain temporary driver's licenses. From there, the indictment alleges they used the driver's licenses to prove to the My People Fund that they were displaced by the wildfires, even though they hadn't been.

The five made off with about $12,000 before the fund caught on, the Knoxville New Sentinel reports.

Since the incident, Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson said the fund has stopped accepting temporary driver's licenses as proof of displacement.

He added that the My People Fund helped 900 families with about $9 million in the first six months after the fires.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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