Independence, KC Men Sentenced for $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 and a Kansas City, Mo., man were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a $1.2 million arson and insurance fraud conspiracy.
Joshua Stamps, 28, of Independence, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to 12 years and one month in federal prison without parole. Co-defendant John S. Wayne, 31, of Kansas City, was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Stamps to pay $429,991 in restitution and Wayne to pay $198,824 in restituiton, for which they are jointly and severally liable.
On June 12, 2014, Stamps pleaded guilty to leading the arson and insurance fraud conspiracy and to using fire to commit a federal crime (mail fraud). Stamps, Wayne and four other co-conspirators – all of whom have pleaded guilty and were sentenced today – 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 Michael Smith, 27, and his mother, Randy Stamps, 57, both of Kansas City, Mo., as straw owners for three of the houses. Other co-conspirators 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, Wayne and co-defendant Roy Richard, 34, of Wichita, Kan., burned 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. 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.
Wayne pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson, use of a fire to commit a federal crime, mail fraud and wire fraud. In addition to the conspiracy, Wayne also pleaded guilty to one count of arson.
Wayne was injured while setting a house on fire and forced to shed his burning pants in the street. On April 23, 2011, the house at 4901 Agnes partially burned, and the fire was determined to be arson. Two days later, on April 25, 2011, Wayne and Stamps burned the house in another arson fire. This time the house was a total loss.
A witness saw Wayne running from the house with his pants on fire. Wayne took his pants off and left them in the street. Kansas City police detectives recovered burned sweatpants and boots from the street; DNA recovered from the pants confirmed that Wayne wore the burned pants discarded in the street. A chemical analysis established that the pants and boots had evaporated gasoline on them.
Wayne was admitted to Research Medical Center with severe burns to his legs later that day. Wayne told investigators that Stamps, who was driving, refused to take him to a hospital and instead took him home and bought him some burn cream. Wayne said the burn cream wasn’t going to work so he went to the hospital.
Smith, Randy Stamps and Richard each received probationary sentences today. Co-defendant Luis Esquivel, 50, a citizen of Costa Rica residing in Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced to time served (approximately 13 months).
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.