Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Osage Beach man sentenced to 13 years for scamming Joplin Tornado victims

(From Attorney General Chris Koster)

Attorney General Chris Koster announced that a Jasper County court today sentenced Jeffrey Wolfson of Osage Beach to serve 13 years in a Missouri prison after a jury found him guilty in June of five felonies and two misdemeanors for scamming three Joplin homeowners following the devastating May 2011 tornado.

According to Koster, Wolfson operated Insurexx, LLC, a Lebanon, Missouri-based company that offered insurance claim adjusting and home-repair services to consumers with homes damaged by the Joplin tornado. Wolfson's company acted as an insurance adjuster without first obtaining a Missouri license from the state’s insurance department. He and his company then accepted insurance proceeds and personal checks from three Joplin homeowners, promising to begin repair work on their homes. Ultimately, Insurexx never completed the home repairs or returned the homeowners' payments.

In June, jurors found Wolfson guilty of two felony counts of stealing, three felony counts of unlawful merchandising practices, and two misdemeanor counts of public adjusting without a license. At the trial's outset, the court determined that Wolfson was a prior and persistent offender for multiple previous convictions, including five felonies of unlawful merchandising practices in 2000. Because of his prior and persistent offender status, Wolfson faced enhanced sentences on the five felony counts.

Today, Judge Crane sentenced Wolfson to 13 years in prison on each of the two felony stealing counts, seven years on each of the three felony unlawful merchandising practices counts, and one year on each of the two misdemeanor public adjusting without a license counts. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. Wolfson was taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing to begin serving his sentence.

Wolfson's partner in the Insurexx scam, Gloria Diane Schoeller, pleaded guilty in 2013, paid full restitution totaling more than $24,000 to the three Joplin-area homeowners, cooperated in the prosecution of Wolfson, and received four years of probation.

"My office continues to track down criminals who took advantage of the people of Joplin following the tornado," said Koster. "In this case, we ensured victims received their money back and that Wolfson received a prison sentence."

The Attorney General’s Office assisted Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

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