2 Accused of Staging Indiana Crash Face Felony Charges

June 18, 2012

Felony insurance fraud charges have been filed against two people accused of staging a traffic accident in eastern Indiana that led to two women being flown by helicopter to hospitals.

Katie Rene Johnson, 19, of Hartford City, and Matthew L. Burkhart, 21, of Marion, also are charged with misdemeanor counts of false informing and criminal recklessness.

Authorities were called to the scene of a collision at about 11:30 p.m. June 4 and found two damaged vehicles at a rural intersection a few miles outside Hartford City, 50 miles south of Fort Wayne.

Johnson and another woman were “crying and complaining of pain,” according to a probable cause affidavit. They were flown to hospitals in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne for treatment of what an investigator later called “extremely minor injuries.”

Authorities became suspicious upon learning that the woman in the car with Johnson lives with Burkhart. An investigation also found that one car was determined to be stationary at the time of the crash, The Star Press of Muncie reported.

A probable cause affidavit says Johnson told Blackford County sheriff’s investigators that the people involved agreed to stage the accident to collect insurance. Johnson had said the other woman flown to the hospital was going about 40 mph when the crash occurred.

The other two people allegedly involved had not been charged as of Thursday.

Johnson was being held Thursday in the Blackford County jail on a $2,000 cash bond. Burkhart was being held on a $1,500 cash bond and is scheduled to make a court appearance Monday.

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