Two Memphians Indicted for Tornado Assistance Fraud

Two Memphians Indicted for Tornado Assistance Fraud

Three suspects, two of which are from Memphis, have been indicted for defrauding a non-profit organization for rental assistance checks meant for victims of the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
SPRINGFIELD, MO (localmemphis.com) - Three suspects, two of which are from Memphis, have been indicted for defrauding a non-profit organization of rental assistance checks meant for victims of the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri.

31-year-old Herlana Latham and 36-year-old Christopher Smith of Memphis, as well as 30-year-old John Williams of Cairo, Illinois, were charged in a three-count indictment for conspiracy and wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Latham worked for a non-profit corporation that ran a rental assistance program called the Missouri Housing Trust Fund Disaster Relief Program. The program gave money to landlords whose renters were displaced by the May 22, 2011 tornado that hit Joplin.

Investigators say Latham submitted fraudulent applications for relief funds to be paid to Smith and Williams, and that she falsified information to make it appear as though her co-conspirators were legitimate landlords. Five checks were issued in amounts between $1,050 and $2,000, which were split among the three suspects.

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