New Madrid County Woman to Spend Half a Year in Jail for Wire Fraud

A New Madrid County woman was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to unlawfully obtaining funds via a Facebook fundraiser in 2019.  Jennifer Newton was sentenced on Thursday to six months  in prison on each of two counts of wire fraud, to be served concurrently. The 47-year-old New Madrid County resident pleaded guilty in September to those two counts of wire fraud. Newton was a firefighter at the New Madrid Fire Department, in New Madrid County. In 2019, the New Madrid Fire Chief, James Harris, was diagnosed with lymphoma and began undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Newton organized an online fundraiser via Facebook titled “New Madrid Fire Chief Fundraiser,” which accepted over $7,000 in donations for the benefit of James Harris during August, 2019. As part of the fundraising duties, Newton, as the fundraising organizer, was responsible for designating a bank account into which the funds were to be deposited. Newton used a personal bank account under her control with the Bank of New Madrid to receive as deposits the funds donated for the benefit of James Harris. Newton unlawfully obtained over $5,000 from Facebook, which she directed to her personal accounts, or accounts controlled by her, including a PayPal account owned by her, and she received funds to which she was not entitled, between Aug. 2, 2019, and Aug. 29, 2019. Those funds were sent in interstate commerce by wire transfer to an account with the Bank of New Madrid used by defendant Newton in New Madrid from an account associated with Facebook Fundraising with Wells Fargo Bank NA located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As charged in Count I of the Indictment, one of the wire transfers occurred on or about August 2, 2019, in the amount of $2,253.45; and as charged in Count II of the Indictment, another wire transfer occurred on or about Aug. 5, 2019, in the amount of $1,429.82. Prior to her guilty plea, Newton paid restitution for the amounts unlawfully taken by her. This case was investigated by the New Madrid Police Department and the New Madrid County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Paul Hahn handled the prosecution for the government.



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