Also Pleads Guilty to Illegal Firearms

January 28, 2022

A Lee’s Summit, Missouri, man has pleaded guilty in federal court to leading an arson and insurance fraud conspiracy and to illegally possessing firearms.

Wandale J. Fulton, 40, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Thursday, Jan. 27, to one count of conspiracy to use fire in the commission of wire and mail fraud, one count of arson in the commission of a federal felony, and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Fulton also pleaded guilty to the charge contained in a separate federal indictment, one count of being a felon in possession of firearms.

By pleading guilty, Fulton admitted that he participated in an arson and insurance fraud conspiracy from 2013 through 2019. Fulton and co-conspirators bought houses in Kansas City, Mo., insured them, had them burned or vandalized, and then filed insurance claims on the houses.

Conspirators made false claims on insurance applications, such as claiming the houses were rented or occupied, that there were valuable contents in the houses, and that the houses had been renovated. After obtaining insurance, a co-conspirator would set fire to the house. The homeowner would then claim a total loss with the insurance company.

Fulton also admitted that he and his co-conspirators submitted fraudulent loan applications to Heartland Community Credit Union. They also presented fraudulent bills of sale for automobiles to Heartland to obtain loans to purchase cars. The plea agreement cites four fraudulent automobile loans obtained by conspirators from the credit union, ranging from $18,300 to $25,200. In each of those instances, Heartland issued a check to the loan applicant and the checks were delivered directly to Fulton, who deposited them into his own bank account.

ATF agents executed a search warrant at Fulton’s residence on March 26, 2019. During the search, agents found a Taurus .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun in a shoebox in the bedroom closet and an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 semi-automatic firearm in a backpack in a closet. Agents later found a Taurus 9mm pistol in a computer bag.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Fulton has a prior felony conviction for manslaughter.

Four co-conspirators have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Under federal statutes, Fulton is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a mandatory consecutive sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole for use of fire in the commission of a federal felony. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Venneman. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Lee’s Summit, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, and the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department.