independence man pleads guilty to $1.2 million
arson, insurance fraud conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to leading a $1.2 million arson and insurance fraud conspiracy.
Joshua Stamps, 27, of Independence, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to the charges contained in a Sept. 25, 2013, federal indictment. In addition to the conspiracy, Stamps pleaded guilty to using fire to commit a federal crime (mail fraud).
Stamps and his co-conspirators bought, over-insured and burned five houses, all in Kansas City, Mo. The total actual loss to insurance companies in the scheme was $434,938, while the total intended loss was $1,196,840.
Beginning in July 2007, Stamps bought houses costing from $6,500 to $15,000. Stamps used co-conspirators as straw owners for three of the houses, while other co-conspirators helped commit the arsons and/or acted as tenants so the properties could be classified as rentals.
In the conspiracy that lasted until 2013, Stamps and his co-conspirators insured the houses for much more than the purchase price, in amounts from $88,000 to $307,000. Stamps and his co-conspirators made false statements on the insurance applications, such as that the houses were rented and/or occupied, that there were valuable contents in the houses, and that the houses had been renovated.
Stamps and his co-conspirators set fire to the houses. The listed owner of the house that burned would then claim a total loss with the applicable insurance company and would falsely claim they had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the fire.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Stamps must pay a money judgment of $434,938. Stamps is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to 25 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. 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 Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.