A Joplin businessman was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury for allegedly defrauding the U.S. government out of $3 million used for the cleanup of the southern Missouri city after its deadly 2011 tornado.
Raul R. Gonzales, 47, of Neosho, Mo., owned Joplin-based Intelligent Investments Inc.
The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri said in a statement Wednesday that the company had registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a small business owned by a service-disabled veteran. As such, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put it under contract in June after the tornado. It paid the company about $3 million to remove debris.
The contract specified that at least 50 percent of the work be done by employees residing in Jasper and Newton counties.
Instead, the federal indictment alleges, an out-of-state company — identified in the indictment as Company A — recruited Intelligent Investments to bid on and obtain the contract as the primary contractor.
The indictment alleges that Gonzales conspired with Company A, agreeing that Gonzales would perform little if any work. Instead, Company A would perform the work with its own resources and subcontractors, which were not local.
Gonzales and Company A allegedly agreed to split the net profits, with Company A receiving substantially more than half.
Gonzales is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, three counts of making a false claim, three counts of disaster fraud, and three counts of making and using a false document.