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springfield man sentenced for $160,000 fraud scheme after falsely claiming to be joplin tornado victim

May 16, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Springfield, Mo., man who falsely claimed to be a Joplin, Mo., tornado victim was sentenced in federal court today for a fraud scheme in which he bounced more than $160,000 in bad checks at dozens of businesses in southwest Missouri.

Justin R. Compton, 31, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to five years and 11 months in federal prison without parole. This sentence, which is the longest prison term recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines, must be served consecutively to a two-year sentence for violations of the terms of his supervised release for two prior fraud convictions. The court also ordered Compton to pay $46,665 in restitution.

On Dec. 6, 2011, Compton pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Compton admitted that he opened a checking account at Regions Bank in Ozark, Mo., on May 20, 2011. Although Compton did not deposit any funds in the account, he stole goods and services from various businesses in Greene, Barry, Jasper, Lawrence, and Taney counties by purchasing the goods and services using checks drawn on that bank account. Compton convinced businesses to accept the checks by falsely stating that he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and a victim of the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin. Compton also attempted to keep the checking account open when checks began to be returned for insufficient funds by falsely telling a bank representative that his family had been victims of the Joplin tornado.

Compton engaged in similar schemes using accounts he opened at Higher One Bank, Armed Forces Bank and Academy Bank. Compton admitted that he wrote a total of 225 checks on those four bank accounts, with total losses of $160,672. The number of victims identified to date is well in excess of 50.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

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