Nixa Contractor Sentenced for Stealing $73,000 from Elderly Tornado Victims
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nixa, Mo., contractor who was hired to repair tornado damage at the Joplin residence of an elderly couple was sentenced in federal court today for a fraud scheme in which he stole more than $73,000.
Terry Alton Parker, 59, of Nixa, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to five years and eight months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Parker to pay $34,420 in restitution, in addition to the $38,640 in restitution that Parker paid prior to today’s hearing.
On Sept. 26, 2013, Parker pleaded guilty to bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
Parker operated Alliance Contracting of Nixa, LLC, and was hired by a Joplin, Mo., resident to repair significant damage to his house caused by the May 22, 2011, tornado that destroyed a large part of Joplin. The victim, identified as “H.B.” in court documents, was 84 years old at the time; he was caring for his 88-year-old wife, who required home care and nursing assistance.
Parker agreed to repair the victim’s home for a price that was to be no more than the amount H.B. was reimbursed by his insurance company for the damage. There was no written contract, and most of the money paid to Parker was disbursed based on Parker’s verbal requests for funds. Between June 13, 2011, and Feb. 2, 2012, H.B. paid Parker a total of approximately $80,300 for his services.
After being hired, Parker was at H.B.’s home on a regular basis from June 2011 through February 2012. Parker befriended H.B. and soon began using his downstairs office area as his own office. According to court documents, Parker also began to store equipment in H.B.’s storage shed, was allowed to interact directly with the insurance company, collected H.B.’s mail each day and brought a caregiver into the home to care for H.B.’s wife. When a caregiver expressed concern regarding Parker’s taking advantage of the victim, according to court documents, Parker attempted to intimidate her by stating that she should be careful how she treated him (Parker), because one day H.B.’s house would belong to him.
In November 2011, without H.B.’s knowledge or permission, Parker stole a check from H.B.’s checkbook and wrote a check to himself for $38,640. Parker forged H.B.’s signature and deposited the check into his own bank account.
Parker persuaded H.B., who did not own a computer, to get Internet access at his home so Parker could order supplies online and conduct other business via the Internet. H.B. agreed to pay for the service. Parker set up an online banking account for H.B.’s checking account, without H.B.’s knowledge or permission, and directed all bank statements and other notifications from the bank to be delivered to an e-mail address that Parker set up in H.B.’s name (also without his knowledge). Parker established a PayPal account, without H.B.’s knowledge or permission, which was linked to H.B.’s checking account.
Over the next three months, Parker electronically siphoned $34,420 from H.B.’s checking account into the PayPal account. Most of those funds ($32,545) were then transferred from H.B.’s PayPal account to Parker’s own PayPal account.
In January 2012, loss prevention personnel from PayPal attempted to verify the validity of one of Parker’s transactions. Parker called the PayPal call center located in Omaha, Neb., and in a recorded conversation, falsely and fraudulently identified himself as H.B.
On Feb. 27, 2012, H.B. visited the bank to ask why he was no longer receiving paper bank statements. Prior to departing for the bank, he told Parker where he was going, and noticed that Parker was visibly shaken. At the bank, H.B. learned that someone had discontinued his receipt of paper bank statements online, and had electronically transferred $34,420 out of his account. (He later discovered that Parker also stole and forged the $38,640 check.)
Before H.B. returned home, Parker had fled to Texas after stealing various items of H.B.’s personal property. Before departing Missouri, Parker confronted H.B.’s daughter; he falsely claimed to her that H.B. owed him money. Parker also filed a false complaint with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, alleging that H.B. had abused his wife by striking her and failing to give her proper medication as prescribed by her physician. (The complaint was investigated and found to be not substantiated.)
Not counting the stolen items of personal property (which are not a part of this case), Parker stole a total of approximately $73,060 from H.B.
Parker has a prior federal conviction in this district for wire fraud and theft from an FDIC-insured institution. In that case, an eight-count indictment was returned by the federal grand jury on Sept. 12, 2002, charging Parker with five counts of wire fraud and three counts of bank fraud over the course of three years, from 1998 through 2001. The scheme charged in that case involved Parker’s falsification of multiple invoices for goods and services in order to obtain advance payments under a construction contract, causing an aggregate loss of $46,627 to a company called DMZ, LLC. That case also involved his filing of a false police report and subsequent alteration and deposit of a $2,075 insurance check, which he increased to $20,075, causing a loss of $18,000 to Empire Bank. Parker pleaded guilty to all of the conduct and was sentenced on Jan. 30, 2003, to a term of probation and payment of restitution.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the FBI and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.