The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 8, 2013

Joplin man pleads guilty to fraud involving tornado benefits

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin man pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to fraudulently receiving federal disaster benefits following the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Leslie Lynn Williams, 53, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to the charges contained in a Dec. 13, 2012, federal indictment, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Williams admitted that he filed for disaster relief on May 27, 2011, and listed a Joplin address as his primary residence and claimed that it had been damaged by the tornado.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency later authorized a $1,196 payment to Williams.

Williams admitted in federal court on Friday, however, that he was not living at that address at the time of the tornado, but had moved out in February 2011.

 Under federal statutes, Williams is subject to a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution.

A sentencing hearing for Leslie Lynn Williams will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


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