The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 16, 2012

Eight indicted in tornado benefits fraud

The U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield announced Wednesday that eight people have been accused in indictments of fraudulently obtaining federal disaster benefits after the Joplin tornado a year ago.

David Ketchmark, acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in a news release that seven current or former residents of Joplin and a Lebanon man were charged in indictments returned under seal by a federal grand jury.

The indictments were unsealed and made public after the arrests and initial court appearances of five of the defendants.

Named in separate indictments returned under seal April 3 were current Joplin residents Karen M. Parks, 37; Ronald M. Irby, 29; Amber N. Peters, 22; Scott B. Olsen, 57; Wanda G. McBride, 51; and Pamala A. Shafer, 37, and a former Joplin resident now living in Borger, Texas, Valerie A. Jay, 41. Shane D. Ellis, 36, of Lebanon, was named in a sealed indictment returned May 8.

The U.S. attorney’s office said the defendants applied for federal disaster benefits through the Federal Emergency Management Agency by claiming that their homes or properties were damaged or destroyed by the tornado on May 22, 2011, that cut a six-mile path across Joplin.

Seven of the defendants are charged with single counts of disaster fraud and making false statements to FEMA. The indictments allege that they claimed to have lived at addresses where they never lived, including an address on Virginia Avenue in Joplin claimed by the man from Lebanon.

McBride is charged with a single count of disaster fraud and two counts of making false statements. In order to obtain temporary rental assistance, she falsely claimed to have been forced to move from a damaged residence to homes at two other addresses where she paid rent, according to the indictment.

Joplin police arrested three of the defendants this week. Irby was arrested Monday, and Parks and Olsen were arrested Tuesday.

Reporting fraud

THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE says anyone with information about disaster fraud related to the Joplin tornado should contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud hot line at 866-720-5271, the FBI’s office in Joplin at 417-206-5700, or the Joplin Police Department at 417-623-3131.

Text Only
May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

  • Issues prompt pair to seek help from city; allocations approved for repairs in tornado zone

    Two people spoke to the Joplin City Council on Monday night about issues they would like the city government to address. Elizabeth Clement, a Neosho resident who works in Joplin, asked the city to operate more surveillance in parking lots because of the number of cars stolen. She said her car was stolen from the parking lot at Northpark Mall and used in robberies.

    April 7, 2014

  • National institute releases final report on Joplin tornado

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Friday released a final report into the technical investigation of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin — the deadliest tornado in the United States in the 64 years that official records have been kept.

    March 28, 2014

  • r031814tornadofunds2.jpg Local tornado fund board cites appreciation, accomplishments

    The 991 donations ranged from $1 to $119,000. They came from all over the world. On Tuesday, the managers of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund gave an accounting of how those donations, which totaled about $995,950 with interest, were given in 41 grants, recipients of which included 27 local agencies.

    March 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dan Riddell 0604013.jpg Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment

    After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014. “We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”

    February 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • r021714rescuedog.jpg Author prepares for release of children’s book featuring heroic Joplin rescue dog

    Carolyn Mueller is both a dog lover and a storyteller. So when she got the opportunity to write a story about a Joplin dog named Lily who helped search for survivors after the May 2011 tornado, she jumped on it. “Dogs like Lily can be heroes, too,” she said.

    February 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • VIDEO: Lost photos claim day to be held at museum

    National Disaster Photo Rescue and the Joplin Museum Complex have scheduled a public viewing and photo claim day for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum complex in Schifferdecker Park. The project, originally known as Lost Photos of Joplin, was organized in the weeks after the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado to reunite storm victims with photos displaced by the storm.

    February 4, 2014

  • Building-permit total since tornado nears $1 billion

    The building of new homes in Joplin continues at an average pace of 16 to 18 per month, according to a building permit report released for December by the city of Joplin. Eighteen building permits for new homes were issued in both November and December. In fiscal year 2013, permits for new homes averaged more than 16 per month.

    January 31, 2014

Purchase Globe Photos

Featured Ads
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief