8 Indicted on Fraud Charges From Joplin Tornado

May 18, 2012

Eight people have been indicted on federal fraud charges over alleged false requests for aid following the deadly May 2011 tornado, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield announced Wednesday.

Each of the defendants, indicted separately by a grand jury, is accused of falsely claiming damage to their homes or property in Federal Emergency Management Agency applications for disaster benefits.

Those charged are Karen Marie Parks; Ronald Martell Irby; Amber Nicole Peters; Scott Bradley Olsen; Wanda Gail McBride and Pamala Ann Shafer, of Joplin; and Valerie Ann Jay, a former Joplin resident who now lives in Borger, Texas. The eighth defendant is Shane D. Ellis of Lebanon.

Two Lebanon contractors were accused in state court of falsely accepting insurance checks from three Joplin homeowners to repair tornado damage but not doing the work.

Jeffrey Wolson of Osage Beach and Gloria Diane Schoeller of Springfield face Jasper County criminal charges of felony theft, unlawful merchandising practices, insurance fraud and acting as unlicensed insurance adjusters. They are accused of taking $38,000 from tornado victims through their company, Insurexx.

Schoeller also faces a Laclede County charge of interfering with a civil investigation.

And in another federal fraud case connected to the Joplin tornado, a Springfield man was sentenced on Wednesday to prison time.

Justin R. Compton, 31, had already pleaded guilty to bank fraud in December 2011 after writing more than $160,000 in bad checks at dozens of businesses in five southwest Missouri counties. Compton persuaded the businesses to accept his bad checks by claiming to be a tornado victim as well as a U.S. Army sergeant.

He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to five years and 11 months in federal prison without parole, the maximum recommended sentence under federal guidelines. The sentence will be served consecutively to a two-year sentence for a probation violation connected to two previous fraud convictions. Compton was also ordered to pay $46,665 in restitution.

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