Friday, May 24, 2024

Springfield man indicted for timeshare fraud scheme


(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Springfield, Mo., business owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a timeshare fraud scheme as well as for failing to pay more than $333,000 in federal taxes withheld from his employees’ paychecks.

Brian Scroggs, 52, was charged in a six-count indictment returned on May 14, 2024, by a federal grand jury in Springfield.







Scroggs was the owner of several businesses that focused on various aspects of the timeshare exit industry. These businesses claimed to provide a service that would get prospective clients out of their timeshare contracts.

Scroggs owned Vacation Consulting Services, LLC, and The Transfer Group, LLC, both located in Springfield, from 2014 through February 2019. Scroggs also began operating Real Travel, LLC, on June 5, 2018. Although Real Travel was registered in the state of Arkansas, it conducted business from the Vacation Consulting Services office and utilized the same employees, so by all intents and purposes, was actually Vacation Consulting Services operating under a different business name.

According to the indictment, Scroggs employed sales teams who traveled the country hosting seminars during which Vacation Consulting Services / Real Travel presented to timeshare owners they could get them out of their timeshare contracts for a fee. If they failed to get their clients out of their timeshare contracts within a year, they claimed, they would either buy their clients’ timeshare contracts or refund the fee paid by the clients.

By January 2019, the indictment alleges, Scroggs knew that the timeshare industry was no longer negotiating or working with timeshare exit companies such as Vacation Consulting Services / Real Travel or The Transfer Group to get their timeshare contract holders out of timeshare contracts. Despite knowing that timeshare companies would no longer work with his companies, Scroggs allegedly continued soliciting new clients throughout January 2019 by falsely claiming to be able to get people out of their timeshare contracts.

The federal indictment charges Scroggs with three counts of wire fraud related to three clients who allegedly were defrauded by this scheme. According to the indictment, these clients paid a total of over $32,000 to Scroggs’s companies but were not released from their timeshare agreements and never received a refund.

The indictment also charges Scroggs with three counts of failure to pay over federal employment taxes. Scroggs allegedly failed to pay over to the IRS a total of $333,483 in federal income taxes and FICA taxes that were withheld from his employees’ paychecks for the third and fourth quarters of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.








The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI.

Springfield man killed in car-motorcycle collision


(From the Springfield Police Department)

On May 23, at 7:34 a.m., officers with the Springfield Police Department responded to a vehicle crash at Sunshine Street and Grant Avenue.

Matthew Sisak, 52, from Springfield, was driving a Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle eastbound on Sunshine Street approaching Grant Avenue. A Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Larissa Stewart, 38, from Springfield, was turning south onto Grant Avenue. The two vehicles collided, then the Tahoe hit a utility pole.






 

Sisak was pronounced deceased at the scene. Sisak’s family has been notified.

The circumstances of the crash are part of an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is requested to contact the Springfield Police Department at 417-864-1810 or the tips hotline at 417-869-TIPS.

This was Springfield’s ninth fatal motor vehicle crash in 2024.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Absconder captured in Marionville


(From the Aurora-Marionville Police Department)

Sunday afternoon, AMPD attempted a traffic stop on Hwy 39 near Dyer. The vehicle failed to stop and engaged our officers in a pursuit.

The pursuit went down several farm roads and eventually entered Marionville. AMPD was eventually able to pin the vehicle and perform a felony arrest inside Marionville city limits.

The driver arrested was Darren Hemphill, currently wanted by the Missouri Department of Corrections as an absconder. After today’s arrest, more criminal charges will be requested. He is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He is seen here seated in the rear of an AMPD patrol unit.








As always, we appreciate the backup we received from our local partner agencies.
 
Aurora and Marionville are unsafe locations to set up a criminal enterprise or to hide to avoid capture. We’re pretty sure that memo has gone out.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Kimberling City man killed in accident on James River Road

A Kimberling City man was killed in a one-vehicle accident 10:23 p.m. Tuesday on James River Road in Kimberling City.

According to the Highway Patrol report, a 1991 Chevrolet Astro minivan driven by Steven L. Shook, 59, Kimberling City, traveled off the roadway and struck a tree.








He was pronounced dead at Cox South Hospital, Springfield, at 12:37 a.m. Wednesday.

The fatality was the 35th this year for Highway Patrol Troop D. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Mount Vernon woman indicted for conspiracy to purchase hundreds of lottery tickets with stolen credit cards


(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Mt. Vernon, Mo., woman was indicted by a federal grand jury today for leading a conspiracy to purchase nearly 2,000 lottery tickets with stolen credit cards.

Amy Young, 31, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo.








Today’s indictment alleges that Young obtained stolen credit cards and led a conspiracy to use those stolen credit cards to purchase lottery tickets from a Phillips 66 Fuel Station in Joplin, Mo., between July 22 and Aug. 18, 2022. Young allegedly enlisted the help of others to contact the Missouri Lottery Commission to obtain cash prizes for any winning lottery tickets that were fraudulently purchased using stolen credit cards. They kept a portion of the money for themselves and turned over the rest of the money to Young.

According to the indictment, Young used stolen credit cards to purchase at least 1,957 Missouri Lottery tickets with a value of $62,082. Additionally, Young and her co-conspirators received $54,248 in cash prizes for the winning tickets purchased using stolen credit card numbers.

In total, between the fraudulent credit card transactions and the prize money fraudulently received, Young and her co-conspirators fraudulently received at least $116,330.








Today’s indictment charges Young with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud (related to the fraudulent purchase of $480 in lottery tickets with a stolen credit card on Aug. 18, 2022).

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Monett Police: Do you know these guys?

 

(From the Monett Police Department)

The Monett Police Department is trying to identify these two individuals who were involved in a burglary in Monett. 

The male subject has what appears to be tattoos on both forearms and his right calf. They appear to be driving a light blue or grey minivan, possibly a Kia Sedona. 

If you have any information on either of these subjects, contact the Monett Police Department at 417-235-4241 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-635-8477. 



Springfield, Willard residents indicted in cocaine conspiracy


(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

Three southwest Missouri residents are among five defendants indicted for their roles in a drug-trafficking conspiracy after federal agents seized 16 kilograms of cocaine while arresting two co-defendants in Texas.

Mario Jose Castillo, 55, of Springfield, Mo.; Christhian Eduardo Cruz-Pineda, 22, a citizen of Honduras residing in Springfield; Johnathan David Emerson, 47, a resident of Willard, Mo.; and Bryan Ramirez-Aguero, 33, a citizen of Honduras, and Erika Martinez Hernandez, 40, a citizen of Mexico, both residing in Grand Prairie, Texas, were charged in a 10-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield.








Today’s superseding indictment replaces an indictment returned on April 10, 2024. Today’s superseding indictment contains the same or similar charges as the original indictment, but increases the amount of cocaine allegedly distributed in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and lengthens the timeframe of the conspiracy to incorporate an additional drug seizure.

Federal agents arrested Ramirez-Aguero and Martinez Hernandez on April 11, 2024. At the time of their arrest for the original indictment, agents seized approximately 16 kilograms of cocaine and $145,123 from their residence. Today’s superseding indictment reflects that drug seizure.

The federal indictment alleges that all five of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine from Dec. 12, 2021, to April 11, 2024.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Castillo is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Castillo, Emerson and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Castillo and Martinez Hernandez are charged together in one count of unlawfully using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Castillo and Emerson are charged together in one count of money laundering.








Emerson and Cruz-Pineda are charged together in one count of possessing 500 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Cruz-Pineda is charged with one count of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica R. Eatmon. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, and the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Springfield sex offender sentenced to 15 years for child pornography


(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Springfield, Mo., man who is a registered sex offender was sentenced in federal court today for receiving child pornography, which was discovered on his cell phone during an investigation into threats he made to a sheriff’s department employee.

Joshua Emanuel Wood, 46, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 15 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Wood to 10 years of supervised release following incarceration.








On Dec. 12, 2023, Wood pleaded guilty to one count of receiving and distributing child pornography.

Wood is required to register as a sex offender due to his 2018 conviction of possessing child pornography. The investigation began when Wood left 41 threatening voice mail messages on May 29 and 30, 2022, for the employee of the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department who was in charge of registering sex offenders. The sex offender registrar reported those threats and law enforcement officers arrested Wood; the state felony charge related to this harassment is still pending.

Wood had a Google Pixel cell phone in his possession when he was arrested. Investigators found child sexual abuse material on the phone, including 107 images of child pornography, including depictions of infants being raped, as well as web searches for child pornography and visits to suspected child pornography websites. 








According to court documents, the forensic analysis of Wood’s cell phone demonstrated that he had been wiping his cell phone frequently, and the child pornography files had been received over a period of just a few days. Because he was regularly wiping his cell phone, it is difficult to know the extent of his involvement with child pornography.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Wan. It was investigated by the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Intersection of 97 and 37 in Pierce City to be closed

(From MoDOT)

Intersection of Missouri Route 97 and Route 37 closed for intersection improvements in Pierce City Beginning Tuesday, May 28

Where: Intersection of Missouri Route 97 (Elm Street) and Route 37 (Commercial Street) CLOSED for intersection improvements in Pierce City








When: Tuesday, May 28 until Wednesday, June 5

What: Contractor crews to upgrade and replace intersection to conform to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. This is part of a project to upgrade sidewalks along various routes in Christian and Lawrence Counties.

Traffic Impacts

Intersection of Missouri Route 97 (Elm Street) and Route 37 (Commercial Street) CLOSED in Pierce City

Drivers urged to find alternate routes








No signed detours are planned

Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map for road closings/traffic impacts

Weather and/or scheduling conflicts could alter the work schedule.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Two Eagle Rock women suffer serious injuries in crash on 86

Three Eagle Rock residents were injured in a one-vehicle accident 2 p.m. today on MO 86 one mile east of Eagle Rock.

According to the Highway Patrol report, a 2016 Buick Envision driven by Dawna D. Headgepath, 67, Eagle Rock, traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck a sign and a guy wire for a pole.








Headgepath was airlifted to Cox South Hospital, Springfield, with serious injuries.

Two passengers, Lorrie A. Campbell, 52, and Viola D. Boggs, 69, both of Eagle Rock, were treated for serious and minor injuries, respectively, at Cox South.