Busy Week Brings 3 Guilty Pleas, 2 Arrests for Insurance Fraud

April 1, 2019

Three Washington state residents pleaded guilty to charges after investigations by state fraud investigators last week, while two other people were charged with filing false claims.

Stephanie Pepper Snider, 42, of Renton, pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court to one felony count of filing a fraudulent insurance claim for a diamond ring, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s office said. Snider was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and ordered to repay State Farm Insurance $10,617.

According to an investigation by the insurance commissioner’s Criminal Investigations Unit, Snider filed a $10,617 claim with State Farm in August 2016 for a two-carat diamond ring she said she lost the day before. In June 2017, Snider filed a claim with Allstate Insurance for the same ring, stating it had been stolen from her apartment.

When Allstate questioned Snider about the State Farm claim, she said she not aware of the claim or payment. Allstate denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.

In April 2018, Snider’s former fiancĂ© showed detectives the ring, receipt, diamond certificate and a photo of Snider wearing the ring in October 2016, after State Farm paid her claim. The man said he was not aware that Snider had filed the 2016 claim with State Farm.

In Kitsap County, a married couple will avoid prosecution on misdemeanor insurance fraud charges by entering a pre-trial diversion, Kreidler’s office said. Jason McCown and Taijae McCown each were charged with one count of filing a false insurance claim.

According to the investigation, Taijae McCown filed a claim with USAA on Feb. 3, 2018 after damaging her car when she hit a curb. USAA denied the claim because the policy had been canceled for nonpayment four days earlier.

On Feb. 7, Jason McCown reinstated the policy and then filed a claim on Feb. 9 for damage that matched the earlier claim, saying it was a different collision. USAA denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.

The McCowns agree to repay $971 to USAA for rental car expenses it paid before denying the claim, $200 each in court fees and avoid criminal law violations for one year. If they meet these terms, the charges will be dismissed in March 2020.

An exorbitant number of claims prompted an investigation that led to the arrest of Rebecca Tabares Garza, 53, of Yakima. She was charged with filing a false insurance claim, forgery and second-degree theft.

According to the CIU, Garza purchased an accident-only policy for herself and her family from American Fidelity Insurance in 2013. The policy provides coverage for injury or death as a result of an accident.

From 2013 until 2017, Garza submitted 27 injury claims. Based on the number of claims, American Fidelity opened an investigation into Garza. The insurer identified three claims in 2017 totaling $5,175 for herself and her adult children that she substantiated with falsified medical documentation. American Fidelity canceled Garza’s policy and referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.

A separate investigation led to the arrest of Roberto Roman-Salgado, 22, of Granger. He was charged in Yakima County Superior Court with first-degree attempted theft and filing a false insurance claim.

According to the investigation, Roman-Salgado totaled his uninsured car on Sept. 28, 2018, in Yakima Valley when he fell asleep while driving. He purchased auto insurance from Progressive on Oct. 2 and filed a $10,131 claim the next day. Progressive found tow records showing the collision happened before the policy was purchased and denied the claim. Progressive referred the case to Kreidler’s CIU.

Source: Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner

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