The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 10, 2013

Woman receives probation in tornado-fraud case

By Jeff Lehr

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Springfield woman received probation Monday with the resolution of tornado-fraud charges that she was facing in Jasper County Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Gayle Crane granted suspended impositions of sentences to Gloria D. Schoeller, 57, on a felony count of deceptive business practice and two misdemeanor counts of acting as a public adjuster without a license.The judge ordered that Schoeller serve four years on probation for the felony conviction and one year on probation for each of the misdemeanor offenses, with the probationary periods to run concurrently.

Schoeller and her husband, Jeffrey Wolfson, 65, of Osage Beach, were charged last year by the state attorney general’s office with three felony counts of deceptive business practice and three felony counts of theft, in addition to misdemeanor counts of acting as public adjusters without licenses.

Schoeller was the operator of Insurexx, a claims adjusting and home repair business based in Lebanon, Mo., that sought work in Joplin after the May 22, 2011, tornado. Wolfson reportedly served as a paid consultant to the business.

The couple were accused of taking about $38,000 of insurance money from three Joplin property owners without delivering near that amount in home repairs.

Larry Black testified at a preliminary hearing last year that he paid Insurexx more than $23,000 to begin repairs, but the only work it completed was the replacement of his roof. Another property owner, Angela Viebrock, told the court that she and her husband paid the business more than $9,000 to get started on $30,000 worth of repairs, but no work was ever done. Ron Galindo reportedly gave the company $6,000 of his insurance money but could not get any work done until he paid a second contractor to remove a tree from his roof.

Schoeller entered Alford pleas April 1 on her three counts of conviction in a plea deal dismissing the other charges that she was facing. She paid $24,144.88 in restitution as part of her plea bargain, and the state attorney general’s office agreed not to oppose suspended sentences in her case.

Wolfson, who remains scheduled to go to trial in October, is being prosecuted as a prior and persistent offender. He has convictions in a federal court for making a false and fraudulent statement to the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and for three counts of bribing a public official. He also was convicted 12 years ago in St. Louis County Circuit Court on five counts of unlawful merchandising practices.

Sales pitch

A SALESMAN FOR INSUREXX testified last year that he was trained by Jeffrey Wolfson to make a sales pitch that included a promise to cover the deductibles on customers’ insurance policies.