Joplin Man Sentenced for Disaster Fraud Related to Tornado Benefits
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for fraudulently receiving 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, of Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 15 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Showalter to pay $938 in restitution to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
On June 3, 2014, Showalter pleaded guilty to disaster fraud by making false statements to in an application to FEMA for disaster benefits. 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. On the basis of his application to FEMA, Showalter received $938 to which he was not entitled.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was 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.