The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

February 26, 2014

Five indicted in federal cases of tornado fraud

Five current or former Joplin residents were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury that accused them of fraudulently receiving or applying for federal disaster benefits after the May 22, 2011, tornado.

The indictments in U.S. District Court in Springfield involve separate cases.

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

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

Pickett, 34, is accused of 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.

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

Mitchell, 34, is accused of fraudulently applying for disaster benefits by claiming that he lived at a residence when the tornado hit, when in fact he didn’t live there. He also is accused of making false statements to FEMA when he claimed to have lived at the address, according to the indictment.

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



Investigators

THE CASES ARE BEING PROSECUTED by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich. They were investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin Police Department.

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