The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 26, 2014

Five indicted on federal charges for tornado fraud

— Five current or former Joplin residents were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for fraudulently receiving or applying for federal disaster benefits following the May 22, 2011, tornado.

The indictments in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield are for separate cases.

Those indicted are: Dustin Joe Showalter, Fred Pickett Jr., Brittany Barnes, Gary Mitchell Jr. and Russell Green.

Showalter, 36, is charged in the indictment with applying for federal disaster benefits by claiming to live at a Joplin residence when the tornado hit, when in fact he didn’t live there. The indictment also alleges Showalter made false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that aided in the fraudulent claim for disaster benefits by Pickett.

Pickett, 34, is charged in the indictment with fraudulently receiving disaster benefits by claiming that he moved from one primary residence to another primary residence in Joplin after the tornado, when in fact he didn’t move to a second residence. The indictment also alleges that Pickett fraudulently filed for disaster benefits by claiming to have bought a car from a towing company, when he hadn’t done that.

Brittany Barnes, 22, is charged in the indictment with fraudulently receiving disaster benefits by claiming to have lived at a residence in Joplin when the tornado hit, but in fact she didn’t live there. The indictment also alleges that Barnes fraudulently filed for disaster benefits by falsely claiming she lost personal property from the residence.

Gary Mitchell Jr., 34, is charged in the indictment with fraudulently applying for disaster benefits by claiming that he lived at a residence when the tornado hit, but he didn’t live there. He also made false statements to FEMA when he claimed to live at the address, according to the indictment.

Russell Green, 35, is charged in the indictment with fraudulently applying for disaster benefits by claiming that he lived at a residence in Joplin when the tornado struck when he didn’t live there. He also is alleged to have made false statement to FEMA in making the applications.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich. They were investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin Police Department.

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