The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 16, 2012

Local courts dealing with tornado-fraud cases

Fraud related to Joplin’s tornado a year ago figured into both the prison sentence a Springfield man was assessed Wednesday in federal court and the charging of two contractors from Lebanon in Jasper County Circuit Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr assessed Justin R. Compton, 31, of Springfield, five years and 11 months in a federal prison without parole for posing as a Joplin tornado victim while writing more than $160,000 worth of bad checks at more than 50 businesses in Southwest Missouri.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri said the sentence was the longest term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines applicable to Compton’s conviction for bank fraud.

The judge ordered that Compton’s sentence run consecutively to a two-year term that the defendant must complete for violating conditions of his supervised release on two previous fraud convictions. The judge also ordered that he pay $46,665 in restitution.

When Compton pleaded guilty to the charge Dec. 6, he acknowledged having opened a checking account at Regions Bank in Ozark two days before the tornado in Joplin on May 22, 2011, the U.S. attorney’s office said. He then began writing checks without having deposited any funds in the account.

The checks were written for goods and services at businesses in Greene, Jasper, Lawrence, Barry and Taney counties, with the defendant frequently persuading the businesses to take the checks by falsely representing himself as a tornado victim and an Army sergeant. The U.S. attorney’s office said that when the checks began being returned for insufficient funds, Compton again falsely represented his family as victims of the tornado to a bank official.

Compton also wrote bad checks on accounts opened at Higher One Bank, Armed Forces Bank and Academy Bank. The U.S. attorney’s office put the number of bad checks written on the four accounts by the defendant at 225 and the loss to the victims at $160,672.

In a separate and unrelated tornado-fraud matter, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed charges Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court against Jeffrey Wolfson and Gloria Diane Schoeller, the operators of Insurexx LLC, of Lebanon.

Wolfson and Schoeller are accused of defrauding three Joplin homeowners of about $38,000 through insurance claims adjusting and home repair services. The attorney general’s office said in a news release that the contractors accepted insurance checks from the homeowners without performing promised home repairs.

The state alleges that Wolfson and Schoeller falsely promised that homeowners would be reimbursed for payments they made to subcontractors and that the repair work would begin immediately. They also acted as insurance adjusters without being licensed by the Missouri Department of Insurance, the attorney general’s office said.

The contractors are charged with three counts of stealing by deceit, three counts of unlawful merchandising practices, three counts of insurance fraud and two counts of public adjusting without a license. Schoeller also has been charged in Laclede County with interference with a civil investigative demand.

The attorney general’s office said Wolfson will be prosecuted as an alleged prior and persistent offender, and could face up to 15 years in prison on each of the six most serious counts. Schoeller could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on each of her three most serious counts.



Storm chasers

THE MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE warns that unscrupulous contractors commonly referred to as “storm chasers” will often try to get victims of storm damage to sign a contract allowing them to negotiate with the victims’ insurance company for repair work. The contractors then perform shoddy work or no work at all.

1
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
Facebook
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief