The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 24, 2013

Joplin man convicted of tornado-related fraud

By Jeff Lehr
news@joplinglobe.com

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin man, who submitted falsified applications for federal disaster benefits after the tornado on May 22, 2011, and was denied assistance, is facing the possibility of a long prison term.

A jury deliberated less than two hours Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield before convicting Scott B. Olsen, 58, on two counts of making false representations on applications for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The verdicts came at the conclusion of a two-day trial on counts contained in an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury on April 3, 2012.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri presented evidence at the trial that Olsen initially filed for disaster assistance four days after the tornado, claiming that he maintained a secondary residence at 2305 Virginia Ave. where he had stored property that was damaged by the storm.

FEMA found him ineligible for disaster assistance with respect to that property. According to evidence and testimony presented at the trial, the defendant then twice submitted documents to the agency in an attempt to prove that the address was his primary residence when it was not.

Even though he was again denied assistance, the U.S. attorney’s office prosecuted him for making false representations on federal applications.

Olsen could be assessed up to 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 on the convictions. U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple will set a sentencing hearing date after a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.



Probe

THE PROSECUTION of Scott Olsen proceeded on information developed by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Joplin Police Department.