ST. LOUIS (AP) — Seven defendants accused in a pre-arranged funeral scam have been offered plea deals that would allow them to avoid potential life sentences.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlined the plea offers on Friday. The deal would require five to 10 years in prison in exchange for guilty pleas. The case is being handled in federal court in St. Louis.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan cited the high cost of trials that could last three months.
Prosecutors say now-defunct National Prearranged Services Inc. operated like a Ponzi scheme before it was shut down in 2008. Customers were allegedly bilked of up to $600 million.
One former employee, 69-year-old Sharon Nekol Province, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Sentencing is November 7th.
PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) - Two men face sentencing in September after pleading guilty to a counterfeit credit card scheme in southeast Missouri.
The Southeast Missourian reports that 33-year-old Faisal Elmi of Alexandria, Va., and 26-year-old Mamadou Sall of Cheverly, Md., pleaded guilty Monday.
Police say they discovered in November that the two men and a third suspect used fraudulent cards to buy cigarettes, fuel and more than $1,000 worth of other merchandise at several Perryville businesses.
Police say a search of the suspects' motel room found a laptop computer connected to a stripe-card reader and writer and more than 100 counterfeit credit cards using numbers of legitimate customers.
The third suspect, 43-year-old Lisa Paige of Alexandria, goes to trial in August.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A former southwest Missouri man is serving nine years in prison without parole for an investment scheme that defrauded senior citizens out of nearly $1.2 million.
Federal prosecutors announced Monday that 68-year-old Steven Gwin, formerly of Ozark, was sentenced Friday and ordered to pay $1.17 million in restitution.
Gwin pleaded guilty Aug. 20 to mail fraud and money laundering. Between August 2005 and March 2007, Gwin solicited investments for retirement ventures and conducted seminars for senior citizens to promote the investment programs.
But prosecutors say once individuals invested with Gwin, he used their funds for personal expenses.
The owner of the troubled Frison Flea Market in north county, is facing federal charges.
The US Department of Justice say Jack Frison let people renting booths in his business sell counterfeit goods. Prosecutors also say Frison knew the vendors were selling fake goods.If convicted on the three felony charges he faces, Frison could get 20 years in prison and over $2 million in fines.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Three former Joplin residents faces federal charges accusing them of diverting relief funds after the 2011 tornado.
The U.S. Attorney's office for western Missouri said in a release Monday that 31-year-old Herlana Latham and 36-year-old Christopher L. Smith, both of Memphis, Tenn., and 30-year-old John L. Williams, of Cairo, Ill., are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Prosecutors say Latham was employed by a Joplin non-profit that distributed funds to landlords who rented to clients displaced by the May 2011 tornado. Prosecutors say Latham submitted fake applications for rental payments to Smith and Williams.
The indictment cites five specific checks, ranging from $1,050 to $2,000.
Online court records don't list lawyers Latham and Williams. Smith's lawyer didn't immediately return a phone message
The former fire chief of two districts is headed to prison after admitting to fraud, tax evasion, and stealing nearly $600,000 from his departments.
Eric Hinson will spend 35 months in federal prison and repay over $600,000. Hinson used fire district credit cards to pay for family vacations to Hawaii and Florida and business checks to pay for personal expenses. The investigation into the spending revealed he altered the fire department's books to cover up his theft.
KIRSKVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A former northeast Missouri college student who claimed she had terminal cancer has been sentenced to five years' probation for forgery.
KTVO-TV reports 23-year-old Victoria Marut, of St. Peters, must also do 100 hours of community service under the sentence imposed Monday in Adair County Circuit Court.
Marut was accused of fooling teachers and pupils at Kirksville schools during her internship as a Truman State University graduate student. Her shaved head and claim of having terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma prompted an outpouring of cash and other assistance.
Marut pleaded guilty earlier to forging a doctor's signature.
For community service, Marut must speak in schools about the decisions she made and how they affected other people. She was also ordered to write letters of apology to students and teachers in Kirksville.
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- An East St. Louis couple faces up to a year and a half in federal prison now that they’ve admitted scheming to steal nearly $47,000 in student loan money.
Antwayne Crumble and Danyelle McNeil pleaded guilty Monday in East St. Louis. Charges were conspiring to commit student loan fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. Authorities say the couple used personal information from 28 friends and relatives. They took the information and applied to online undergraduate programs at the University of Phoenix for a year beginning in September 2008.
The pair then enrolled the fake students in classes and applied for student loans. They obtained loans for 16 of the applications.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis-area fire chief is facing federal indictment for allegedly stealing more than $140,000 in money from the impoverished fire district.
The indictment of Kinloch Fire Protection District chief Darran Kelley was announced Thursday. Federal prosecutors allege he stole money from taxes, grant funds intended for a new pumper truck and donations that were aimed at helping the district keep the truck.
He is also accused of falsely claiming disability.
The district went out of service in December.
Kelley appeared in federal court late Thursday and was ordered to spend the night in jail.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - People who fraudulently sign petitions for ballot initiatives could face stiffer penalties under legislation passed by the Missouri Senate.
Senators voted 30-3 Thursday for a bill that would make petition signature fraud a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of between $1,000 and $25,000.
Violators currently can face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The legislation now goes to the House.
The proposed criminal charges also could cover petition circulators who use trickery to obtain signatures or who knowingly submit forms with false signatures.
Charges also could be filed against those who hire petition circulators and should have known that the circulators were committing fraud.