The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

August 5, 2013

Joplin man pleads guilty in tornado fraud case

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Joplin man pleaded guilty today in federal court to receiving disaster benefits fraudulently following the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Andy E. Brownlee, 31, pleaded guilty to a charge contained in an indictment handed up Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

Brownlee applied for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on May 26, 2011, claiming that his home was damaged by the tornado and received a payment of $2,750. He represented his address on the application as that of Lazarus Ministries’ halfway house even though he was not actually living there at the time of the tornado, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.

With the conviction, Brownlee is facing up to 30 years in prison without parole, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled upon completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


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