A New Madrid County woman was sentenced to 6 months in prison for wire fraud. 47-year-old Jennifer Newton pleaded guilty in September 2020 to two counts of wire fraud. Newton was a firefighter at the New Madrid Fire Department. 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 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 $5,000.00 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 August 2, 2019, and August 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, Missouri, 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 August 5, 2019, in the amount of $1,429.82. Prior to her guilty plea, Newton paid restitution for the amounts unlawfully taken by her.