New Kan. Fraud Unit Announces 1st Prosecution

October 31, 2003

The Kansas Department of Insurance’s new fraud unit announced its first prosecution. Acting in concert with the Attorney General and Douglas County District Attorney Christine Kenney, the Unit has filed a 14-count criminal complaint against Rhonda Wilder.

The complaint charges Wilder violated the Fraudulent Insurance Act, as well as the statutes that prohibit forgery and making false information in connection with the sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of annuities. It should be remembered, the department noted in a statement, that the charges are accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The new fraud unit will be part of the department’s legal division.

With the creation of the Fraud Unit, Kansas Commissioner Sandy Praeger has restructured positions in the department to hopefully save money this year and in years to come by putting a dent in illegal schemes.

Bob Claus has been hired as the Fraud Unit Staff Attorney. Claus previously served as Montgomery County attorney and as the deputy attorney general of the Attorney General’s Office Criminal Division. Ted Clark has been hired as the chief fraud investigator. Clark was a special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

In order to give the Fraud Unit the authority it needs to prosecute insurance fraud criminals, Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline has appointed Claus to the position of special assistant attorney General. This will empower Claus to prosecute criminals throughout the state. In addition, Attorney General Kline gave similar appointments to the other six lawyers in the department’s legal division: John W. Campbell, Hsingkan Chiang, Brenda Clary, Keri Kish, Deletria Nash and Linda Sheppard. The lawyers, two of whom are former Assistant Ford County attorneys, will be able to assist the fraud unit when needed.

Some estimates show insurance fraud costs every family in America more than $1,000 per year. The sale of phony insurance and the reporting of false claims are crimes.

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