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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jury Convicts Joplin Man of Disaster Fraud in Failed Attempt to get Tornado Benefits


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin, Mo., man has been convicted in federal court of disaster fraud and making false statements to FEMA in a failed attempt to get federal disaster benefits following the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Scott Bradley Olsen, 58, of Joplin, was found guilty on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 of both counts contained in an April 3, 2012 federal indictment.

Olsen originally filed for disaster assistance on May 26, 2011, claiming a Joplin residence was his secondary residence where he stored property that was damaged in the tornado, but FEMA found him ineligible for disaster assistance. After being denied, Olsen twice submitted documents to FEMA in an attempt to prove that the property was his primary residence. Olsen was again denied assistance on July 27, 2011.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mo., deliberated for less than two hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple, ending a trial that began Monday, April 22, 2013.

Under federal statutes, Olsen is subject to a sentence of up to 35 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 Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security-Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

Disaster Fraud Hotline

Anyone with information about disaster fraud related to the Joplin tornado should call the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721, the Joplin Police Department at 417-623-3131, or the FBI’s Joplin office at 417-206-5700.

Updated January 14, 2015