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Five Joplin residents indicted for disaster fraud related to tor - KOAM TV 7

Five Joplin residents indicted for disaster fraud related to tornado benefits

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE U.S. ATTORNEY WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI TAMMY DICKINSON

FIVE JOPLIN RESIDENTS INDICTED FOR DISASTER FRAUD

RELATED TO TORNADO BENEFITS

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that five Joplin, Mo., area residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury, in separate cases, for fraudulently receiving (or applying for) federal disaster benefits following the tornado that struck the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people and causing more than $2.9 billion in damage.

Dustin Joe Showalter, 36, Fred Lewis Pickett, Jr., 34, Brittany Aulden Barnes, 22, Gary L. Mitchell, Jr., 34, and Russell Lamar Green, 35, all currently or formerly of Joplin, were charged in a series of indictments returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

The federal indictments charge each of the five defendants with disaster fraud for making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in applications for disaster benefits.

Showalter, Pickett and Barnes are each charged in separate indictments with two counts of disaster fraud. Mitchell and Green are each charged in separate indictments with one count of disaster fraud and one count of making false statements.

USA v. Showalter

According to the indictment, Showalter fraudulently received disaster benefits by claiming to have lived at a residence in Joplin at the time of the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact he did not live at that residence. The indictment also alleges that Showalter made false statements to FEMA that aided and abetted Pickett’s fraudulent claim for disaster benefits.

USA v. Pickett

According to the indictment, Pickett fraudulently received disaster benefits by claiming that he relocated from one primary residence to another primary residence in Joplin following the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact he did not move to the second residence. The indictment also alleges that Pickett fraudulently filed for disaster benefits by claiming to have purchased a 1993 Nissan Maxima sedan from Chick’s Towing, when in fact he did not purchase a 1993 Nissan Maxima sedan from Chick’s Towing.

USA v. Barnes

According to the indictment, Barnes fraudulently received disaster benefits by claiming to have lived at a residence in Joplin at the time of the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact she did not live at that residence. The indictment also alleges that Barnes fraudulently filed for disaster benefits by falsely claiming she lost personal property from that residence.

USA v. Mitchell

According to the indictment, Mitchell fraudulently applied for disaster benefits by claiming that he lived at a residence in Joplin at the time of the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact he did not live at that residence. The indictment also alleges that Mitchell made false statements to FEMA when he claimed to live at that address.

USA v. Green

According to the indictment, Green fraudulently applied for disaster benefits by claiming that he lived at a residence in Joplin at the time of the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact he did not live at that residence. The indictment also alleges that Green made false statements to FEMA when he claimed to have lost personal property from that residence.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. They were investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

Disaster Fraud Hotline

Anyone with information about disaster fraud related to the Joplin tornado should call the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721, the Joplin Police Department at 417-623-3131, or the FBI’s Joplin office at 417-206-5700.

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