Attorney General Chris Koster has filed criminal charges in Jasper County against Jeffrey Wolfson and Gloria Diane Schoeller for allegedly defrauding Joplin homeowners out of a total of $38,000 in the wake of the May 2011 tornado.
Wolfson and Schoeller operated Insurexx, LLC, a Lebanon, Missouri-based company that offered insurance claim adjusting and home repair services to those whose homes were damaged by the Joplin tornado.
The charges allege that the defendants:
* Accepted insurance checks from three Joplin homeowners but did not perform any home repairs;
* Falsely promised homeowners that defendants would reimburse them for payments the homeowners made to subcontractors;
* Falsely promised homeowners that defendants would begin repair work immediately; and
* Acted as public insurance adjustors without being licensed by the Department of Insurance.
Koster filed the following charges against both defendants in Jasper County: three counts of stealing by deceit, three counts of unlawful merchandising practices fraud, three counts of insurance fraud, and two counts of public adjusting without a license.
Koster also filed one count of interference with a civil investigative demand against Schoeller in Laclede County.
The charges against Wolfson allege that he is a prior and persistent offender.
If convicted on the six most serious counts, because of his felony convictions, Wolfson could face a term of up to 15 years in prison on each count. If convicted on the three most serious counts, Schoeller could face a term of up to 10 years in prison on each count.
The pending charges against the defendants are merely accusations. As in all criminal cases, the defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
In light of these charges, Koster again cautioned Missourians to be on the alert for "storm chasers" - companies that follow severe weather and try to contract with homeowners who have suffered storm damage. The storm chasers will often ask consumers to sign a contract allowing the company to negotiate with the homeowner's insurance company. The companies often then perform shoddy work or no work at all. Last year Missouri adopted a law barring contractors from representing consumers in insurance claims and also giving consumers a right to cancel if the contracted for work is not a covered repair under the consumer's insurance contract.
The following is a press release from the Missouri Attorney General's Office dated June 27, 2014:
"Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that a Jasper County jury has found Jeffrey Wolfson of Osage Beach guilty of five felony and two misdemeanor counts for scamming three Joplin homeowners following the devastating May 2011 tornado. The Attorney General's Office assisted Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
According to Koster, Wolfson operated Insurexx, LLC, a Lebanon, Missouri-based company that offered insurance claim adjusting and home repair services to consumers with homes damaged by the Joplin tornado. Wolfson's company acted as an insurance adjuster without first obtaining a Missouri license from the Department of Insurance. He and his company then accepted insurance proceeds and personal checks from three Joplin homeowners, promising to begin repair work on their homes. Ultimately, Insurexx never completed the home repairs or returned the homeowners' payments.
Jurors found Wolfson guilty of two felony counts of stealing, three felony counts of unlawful merchandising practices, and two misdemeanor counts of public adjusting without a license.
At the trial's outset, the court determined that Wolfson was a prior and persistent offender for multiple previous convictions, including five felonies of unlawful merchandising practices in 2000. Because of his prior and persistent offender status, Wolfson faces up to fifteen years on each of the two felony stealing counts, and up to seven years each on the three felony unlawful merchandising practices counts. Sentencing is scheduled for September 8th.
Wolfson's partner in the Insurexx scam, Gloria Diane Schoeller, pled guilty in 2013, paid full restitution totaling more than $24,000 to the three Joplin-area homeowners, cooperated in the prosecution of Wolfson, and received four years of probation."
This matter is final.