3 former Joplin residents face fraud charges

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.

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