An Independence man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to arson and insurance fraud.
Joshua Stamps, 27, of Independence, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to charges in a Sept. 2013 federal indictment that included leading a $1.2 million arson and insurance fraud conspiracy. He also pleaded guilty to using fire to commit mail fraud, a federal crime.
According to a United States Attorney release, Stamps bought houses costing from $6,500 to $15,000 beginning July 2007. Stamps used co-conspirators as straw owners for three of the purchased houses, while co-conspirators helped commit the arsons and/or acted as tenants so the properties could be classified as rentals.
The conspiracy lasted until 2013, and Stamps and his co-conspirators insured houses for much more than the purchase price, in amounts from $88,000 to $307,000. Stamps and the co-conspirators made false statements on the insurance applications, such as the houses were rented and/or occupied, there were valuable contents in them and they had been renovated.
Stamps and his co-conspirators set fire to the homes. The listed owner of the house that burned would then claim a total loss with the applicable insurance company and would falsely claim they had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the fire.
Stamps was ordeded to pay $434,938 in restitution under the terms of the plea agreement. Stamps is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to 25 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine of up to $500,000.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of an investigation by the United States Probation Office.