October 24, 2016
Chelan woman pleads guilty to attempted theft in pay-as you crash scheme
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two people in Eastern Washington pleaded guilty to felony charges related to separate insurance fraud cases investigated by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Gregory M. Guzman, 51, of Spokane, pleaded guilty in Spokane Superior Court to second-degree theft of nearly $5,500 from six former insurance clients after an investigation.
Guzman was an insurance agent at a Spokane insurance agency. According to the investigation, the insurance agency’s manager found evidence in November 2013 that a local business’ insurance premiums were missing. Bank records showed the money was deposited into Guzman’s personal account. Kreidler’s investigators found evidence that Guzman misappropriated insurance premiums exceeding $6,100 from six clients. However, one of the checks he deposited didn’t clear the bank, bringing the actual amount of the theft to $5,468.
The insurance agency fired Guzman and notified Kreidler’s office, as required by state law. Guzman’s license to sell insurance was revoked in September 2014.
Martha Garibay, 36, of Chelan, pleaded guilty in Chelan County Superior Court to attempted second-degree theft. She was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with 10 of those days converted to 80 hours of community service, and the remainder of the time suspended. She will be supervised for two years and must pay $700 in court fees.
According to the investigation, Garibay purchased an auto insurance policy from Progressive Insurance on April 13, 2015. On April 14, she filed a claim for damage to her 2010 Ford Explorer that she said occurred in a collision with a deer that day. Investigators found evidence the collision happened April 12, before she purchased insurance.
Kreidler’s SIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.
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