A federal grand jury investigating disaster fraud in the wake of the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, has indicted at least eight people on felony charges, with six more indictments unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
The following indictments were announced:
Amber Nicole Peters, 22, was indicted on one count of disaster fraud and two counts of making false statements to FEMA. Ms. Peters allegedly told FEMA officials between May 28 and September 26 that she lived at 2426 S. Picher Street, when that was not the case.
Karen Marie Parks, 37, told FEMA she lived at 1502 S. Michigan Avenue. She has been released on a personal recognizance bond.
Between June 12 and July 14, Pamela Ann Shafer, 57, told FEMA she lived at 1705 Kentucky Avenue North Apartments, when that was not the case.
FEMA officials were told between June 10 and July 21 that Scott Bradley Olsen, 58, lived at 2305 Virginia, when that was not the case. He was freed on a personal recognizance bond.
Between May 27 and November 4, Ann Valerie Jay told FEMA officials she lived at 4915 E. 27th Street, when that was not the case.
Ronald Martell Irby told FEMA between June 13 and June 14 that he lived at 1823 W. 22nd, when that was not the case. He was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Earlier, the grand jury indicted Wanda Gail McBride, 51, Joplin, on one count of disaster fraud and two counts of making false statements to FEMA
The government alleges that Ms. McBride claimed that between June 29 and Oct. 20, 2011, that she had moved into a $400 a month apartment, a claim that was false and designed to help her get FEMA payments after the May 22 Joplin Tornado.
Ms. McBride was released on a personal recognizance bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 21 in Springfield.
The McBride indictment was the second to be announced from the federal grand jury investigation into scam artists who were taking advantage of the tornado.
The first indictment announced was that of Shane Ellis, 37, who was charged with single counts of disaster fraud and making false statements. He claimed he lived in a home at 2115 Virginia that was hit by the tornado when, in fact, that was not his residence.
Ellis was also released on a personal recognizance bond and is set for a May 21 arraignment.
The maximum penalty for disaster fraud is 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the maximum penalty for making false statements to FEMA is five years in prison.
All of the defendants are being represented by federal public defenders, according to court documents.