News and Press Releases

joplin man pleads guilty to bank fraud scheme;
targeted tornado victim

April 18, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Joplin, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to a bank fraud scheme that targeted a woman whose home was destroyed by the May 22, 2011, tornado.

Teddy Lane Lawson, 52, of Joplin, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to 10 counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, which were charged in an Aug. 24, 2011, federal indictment.

Lawson received permission in June 2011 to enter the property of a woman whose home had been destroyed in the tornado, who is identified as AL.L.,@ in order to remove scrap metal. While he was on the property, Lawson stole a checkbook belonging to L.L., which contained blank checks.

Between July 5 and 9, 2011, Lawson used checks from the stolen checkbook to purchase merchandise from stores in Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. Lawson specifically pleaded guilty to 10 counts that charged him with writing checks in Joplin, Springfield, Mo., and Webb City, Mo. Lawson admitted that he signed L.L.=s name (or a similar name) to 20 checks totaling $2,960.

Under federal statutes, Lawson is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution for each of the 10 counts of bank fraud. In addition, Lawson is subject to a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000 for aggravated identity theft. 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. Secret Service and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

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