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Springfield man pleads guilty to $160K fraud scheme

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A Springfield man pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to a fraud scheme involving several Ozarks banks and businesses after the May 22 tornado in Joplin.

Justin Compton, 31, waived his right to a grand jury and admitted that he illegally wrote more than $160,000 in bad checks at businesses in southwest Missouri, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Two days before the tornado, Compton opened a checking account at a Regions Bank branch in Ozark, in which he didn't deposit any funds. Using checks drawn on the account, Compton stole goods and services from a variety of businesses in Greene, Barry, Jasper, Lawrence and Taney counties. In order to convince businesses to accept the checks, Compton falsely stated he was a sergeant in the U.S. army and a victim of the Joplin tornado.

When the checks began returning because of insufficient funds, Compton said he attempted to keep the checking account open by falsely telling a bank representative that his family had been victims of the tornado.

Compton also engaged in similar schemes after opening bank accounts at Higher One Bank, Armed Forces Bank and Academy Bank.

According to the release, Compton said he wrote a total of 225 checks on the four bank accounts, resulting in total losses of $160,672. To date, more than 50 victims have been identified, but they weren't named in the release.

Under federal statutes, Compton could face a federal prison sentence of up to 30 years, a fine of up to $1 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be set following the presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich and was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.[[In-content Ad]]

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