Joplin woman sentenced for disaster fraud

2 years 9 months 1 week ago Wednesday, March 11 2015 Mar 11, 2015 Wednesday, March 11, 2015 5:09:29 PM CDT March 11, 2015 in News
By: Hanna Knutson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

SPRINGFIELD - A Joplin woman was sentenced to more than two years in prison for disaster fraud in the wake of the 2012 Joplin tornado that killed 158 people and caused more than $2.9 billion in damages.

Brittany Aulden Barnes, 24, pleaded guilty to disaster fraud and identify thief in August. She admitted to receiving disaster benefits after claiming her apartment was affected by the tornado.

Barnes also claimed to have lost furniture items and appliances. She was given $6,708 in disaster benefits and resided in a FEMA-provided mobile for more than a year, resulting in a total cost $12,066. 

Barnes admitted she did not live in the Joplin apartment at the time of tornado and the apartment was vacant.

Barnes and her boyfriend, Russell Lamar Green, had occupied the apartment but moved out before the tornado struck. In a separate case, Green pleaded guilty to making false statements in a failed effort to get disaster relief benefits.

Barnes also stole her coworker's wallet and admitted to using stolen identity documents to impersonate the victim. While using the stolen identification, Barnes bought a play-station and cashed three counterfeit payroll checks. 

Barnes is sentenced to two years and four months without parole. The court also ordered her to pay $18,774 in restitution for disaster relief and $2,094 in restitution to her identity thief victims. 

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