Webb City Man Pleads Guilty to Failed Attempt to Receive Tornado Benefits
SPRINGFIELD, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Webb City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to making false statements to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a failed attempt to fraudulently receive federal disaster benefits following the tornado that struck the city of Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people and causing more than $2.9 billion in damage.
Russell Lamar Green, 35, of Webb City, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of making false statements to FEMA.
By pleading guilty today, Green admitted that he claimed on a July 5, 2011, FEMA application for disaster assistance that his primary residence in Joplin had been damaged by the tornado. When he met with a FEMA-contracted inspector to discuss his claim, Green also claimed that he lost a television, radio, portable space heater, microwave, humidifier, electric fan and clothing as a result of the tornado.
However, Green admitted today that he was not living at the apartment at the time of the tornado. Green’s girlfriend had rented the apartment prior to the Joplin tornado, but she moved out before the tornado struck. There was no financial loss to FEMA, because Green’s fraud was detected before the false claim was paid.
Under federal statutes, Green is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being 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.