Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Tornado Relief Fund
SPRINGFIELD - A former Joplin man pleaded guilty to defrauding a rental assistance program out of nearly $3,050 by falsely claiming to be a landlord who rented properties to clients displaced by the May 2011 tornado.
Prosecutors say 31-year-old John L. Williams, now of Memphis, Tenn., could face up to 20 years in prison without parole and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty Thursday in federal court in Springfield.
Williams admitted signing two applications to the Missouri Housing Trust Fund disaster relief program in 2012. The program distributes funds to landlords who rent to clients displaced by natural disasters. Williams admitted to receiving two rental assistance checks totaling about $3,050, even though he wasn't a landlord, property manager or mortgagee entitled to the funds.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich, and was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. A hearing will be scheduled after a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office is completed.
A co-defendant pleaded guilty last month to his role in the scheme.