Former Carson City, Nev. Businessman Sentenced for Fraud

February 18, 2004

Attorney General Brian Sandoval announced that Tye Fortuna, 31 of Big Fork, Montana was sentenced recently by Judge Michael R. Griffin in the Carson City District Courthouse after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud.

Tye Fortuna previously was a Carson City resident and the former owner of Sierra Earth and Stone Corporation. He reported to Zurich Insurance Company that a large piece of construction equipment, a 2000 Komatsu Front Loader, was stolen from a job site in Carson City, Nevada. The insurance company paid Fortuna $89,375.00 for the alleged theft.

However, a subsequent anonymous tip to The Insurance Fraud Unit of the Attorney General’s Office indicated that Fortuna falsely reported the front loader stolen to his insurance company. The Insurance Fraud Unit initiated an investigation with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau and Montana law enforcement authorities.

The investigation, which included a trip to Montana by Insurance Fraud Unit investigators, revealed Fortuna had personally loaded the equipment on a trailer and moved the front loader to a friend’s property in Big Fork, Montana and changed all of the identification numbers in order to cover up his crime. The Insurance Fraud Unit charged Fortuna with insurance fraud, a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine.

The court sentenced Fortuna to 12-32 months in prison. Judge Griffin suspended the sentence and placed Fortuna on probation for 5 years. The loader was returned to the insurance company, which presently has a high bid for purchase of $46,375.00. Therefore, the court ordered Fortuna to pay the victim, Zurich Insurance Company, $43,000.00 in restitution and $5,000.00 to the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Unit to help cover their investigative costs.

Prosecutor Ronda Clifton stated: “A concerned citizen’s phone call led to cooperative efforts between the Insurance Fraud Unit, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and local law enforcement in the state of Montana which resulted in bringing Fortuna before the court.”

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