The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

November 8, 2012

Couple to stand trial in tornado fraud case

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Jasper County judge has ordered two defendants to stand trial on charges that they defrauded Joplin residents through offers to handle their insurance claims and get their homes repaired after the May 2011 tornado.

Jeffrey Wolfson, 65, of Osage Beach, and Gloria D. Schoeller, 57, of Springfield, are accused of taking about $38,000 of insurance money from three property owners without delivering anywhere near that amount in repairs.

Associate Judge Richard Copeland found probable cause at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court for Wolfson to be bound over for trial on three counts of theft and three counts of deceptive business practice. Schoeller waived a preliminary hearing Tuesday on similar charges.

Prosecutors with the state attorney general’s office said additional misdemeanor counts of acting as a public adjuster without a license will be filed against both defendants.

Probable-cause affidavits identify Schoeller as the operator of Insurexx, a claims adjusting and home repairs service based in Lebanon, Mo. Her husband, Wolfson, acted as a paid consultant for the business, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Three Joplin homeowners testified at Wolfson’s hearing that they contracted with Insurexx for home repairs after the tornado.

Larry Black said a salesman for Insurexx assured him that the payment on his claim that his insurance company was offering was much too low, and that Insurexx could negotiate a better settlement for him and find contractors to perform the repairs he needed.

Black said he paid Insurexx more than $23,000 to begin repairs, but the only work completed was replacement of his roof. He testified that he later learned Insurexx had paid the contractor $2,400. He said he was never refunded any of the difference, and that needed repairs to his fence and pool were never performed. He ended up having to secure his own contractors and pay additional money to get that work done, he said.

Angela Viebrock offered a similar account of paying Insurexx for work that was never performed. Viebrock said she and her husband paid the company more than $9,000 upfront to get started on about $30,000 worth of repairs to their property. She said no work was ever done.

Ron Galindo testified that he received just $9,000 from his insurance company on damage estimated at $15,000 to $20,000 to repair. He said he gave $6,000 of the insurance money to Insurexx.

“They said they knew who to get, they would do all that, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it,” he said.

A month or so later, he began to worry when no work had been done. Only after he secured another contractor himself to remove a tree did Insurexx get the roof repaired. He said the contractor who repaired the roof later told him that he received $3,000 from Insurexx, which was $1,000 less than the contractor thought he should have been paid.

John Winston Grantham and Carol Ann Schuetze, the assistant attorneys general prosecuting the case, called Tim Green, an Insurexx salesman, as a witness at the hearing. All three homeowners testified that they had contact with Green and Schoeller during their dealings with Insurexx, but not with Wolfson.

Green told the court that Wolfson hired him to be a salesman for Insurexx shortly before the tornado and trained him in what his pitch was to be. He said the pitch included a promise to cover the deductibles on customers’ policies.

Complaints from customers led to an investigation by the state attorney general’s office and the serving of a civil investigative demand for records of the company.

Brandon Ruediger, the state investigator, testified that former employees of Insurexx later informed the state that they were told by Schoeller to delete all emails received from Wolfson’s email account. Schoeller is charged in Laclede County with interference with a civil investigative demand for that alleged order issued to employees.

Certain purported emails of Wolfson’s to insurance companies that were obtained by the state were offered as evidence at the hearing.

Prior offender

JEFFREY WOLFSON is being prosecuted as a prior and persistent offender. Court records show he has convictions in 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 on five counts of unlawful merchandising practices 12 years ago in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Text Only
Local News
  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: It’s not Mayberry, but Carthage is close

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Mayberry. In a way, I suppose I still want to live in Mayberry, the fictional town featured in the classic Andy Griffith show of the 1960s.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin couple indicted in child porn case

    A federal grand jury indicted a Joplin couple Wednesday for alleged sexual exploitation of a second child in addition to a girl who was the subject of a preceding indictment of the husband for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography.

    July 23, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Missouri attorney general defends his support of Amendment 1

    With a large cornfield behind him and campaign signs all around, Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster appeared Wednesday at the David Collard farm to tout Amendment 1, an Aug. 5 ballot measure that would make the “right to farm” part of the state constitution.

    July 23, 2014

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Joplin man to stand trial in accident case

    A passenger accused of causing an accident on Interstate 44 in Joplin that injured three others as well as himself was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday on three felony counts.

    July 22, 2014

  • Pseudoephedrine sales in Pittsburg to require prescription

    Starting Friday, those who purchase pseudoephedrine and related products in Pittsburg will need a prescription to do so.

    July 22, 2014

  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read


Have you ever served as a volunteer for your state's conservation department?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter