Man acquitted of fraud in Joplin tornado cleanup

JOPLIN, Mo. – A businessman has been acquitted of defrauding the federal government out of $3 million in disaster recovery money after a massive tornado ripped through Joplin in 2011.

The Joplin Globe reports that Raul Gonzales was found not guilty Friday. Prosecutors say his company, Intelligent Investments Inc., was recruited by an out-of-state company to bid on a tornado-cleanup contract that was to go to a small business owned by a veteran with a service disability. Under the contract, at least half the workers were to live in two southern Missouri counties.

But the indictment says the out-of-state company and its subcontractors did most of the work, with no local resources or contractors.

The defense argued that Gonzeles relied more heavily on subcontractors after the government wanted the work done faster.

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