The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 25, 2012

Nixa contractor accused of stealing from tornado victims

A federal grand jury has indicted a contractor from Nixa in connection with the theft of more than $73,000 from an elderly Joplin couple who hired him to repair their tornado-damaged home.

Terry A. Parker, 57, was charged in a 23-count sealed indictment returned by a grand jury May 8 in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

The indictment was unsealed and made public Friday following Parker’s arrest and initial appearance in court. He remains in custody pending a detention hearing.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri said in a news release that Parker, who operates Alliance Contracting of Nixa, was hired by an 84-year-old man to repair his house in Joplin after the May 22, 2011, tornado.

The man’s 88-year-old wife required in-home nursing care and assistance and the husband was kept busy serving as her caregiver, according to the indictment. Parker was at their residence on a regular basis between June 2011 and February 2012, and soon began using a downstairs office area as his own office, the document states.

The indictment alleges that in November of last year, Parker took a check from the man’s checkbook and wrote himself a check for $38,640, forging the victim’s signature and depositing the check in his own bank account.

He further persuaded the victim to buy a computer and obtain Internet access at his house to enable Parker to order supplies and conduct business there. The defendant allegedly set up an online banking account for the victim’s checking account without his knowledge or permission, and directed all bank statements and notices to be delivered to Parker’s email address.

Parker then allegedly set up a PayPal account in the man’s name with a link to his checking account and began a series of five wire transfers of money from the checking account into the PayPal account and from there to his own PayPal account and bank account.

The indictment alleges that the five transfers amounted to $34,420, and that $32,525 of that was transferred into Parker’s PayPal account. From there, $434 went to pay for jewelry purchased on eBay, $20,167 was moved into Parker’s bank account and $10,500 was transferred to the PayPal account of Parker’s brother.

The defendant is accused of identifying himself as the victim in two telephone conversations with PayPal employees.

A Joplin Police Department report shows that the alleged victim first reported the matter to police on Feb. 28 of this year. While the local investigation was still in progress a month later, the FBI became involved and the matter was brought before the federal grand jury in Springfield.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in the news release that Parker began harassing the victim after he reported the thefts to his bank and filed the police report. The indictment alleges that Parker subsequently filed a complaint with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, falsely claiming that the victim had been abusing his wife. He also allegedly tried to intimidate a caregiver who expressed concern about Parker taking advantage of the man.

23 counts

Nixa contractor Terry Parker is charged with six counts of bank fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, three counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and a single count of witness tampering.

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