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NEW ORLEANS A Belle Chasse woman was handed a 57-month prison sentence after hosting a fraudulent hazardous waste safety program in the wake of the BP oil spill.

Connie M. Knight, 47, also was ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution.

According to the Department of Justice, Knight claimed her classes satisfied the requirements for individuals interested in helping clean up the oil spill. Some of her classes however, lasted only two hours, far less time than the legitimate six-day training classroom training sessions that went with three-day on-site training.

'The defendant not only defrauded people who were desperate for jobs, but also created a risk that poorly trained workers could expose both themselves and the public to hazardous waste that was improperly handled or cleaned up,' said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The Department of Justice news release said Knight required those attending her classes to pay between $150 and $300. At least 950 people did so, the release said.

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