May 24, 2019
OLYMPIA, Wash. – One man was sentenced and four people were charged last week in separate insurance fraud investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
Paul Albarella, of Kennewick, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to first-degree attempted theft. He will serve 20 days on a work crew and pay $500 in court fees. He was charged in November 2018.
According to the investigation, Albarella bought a GEICO insurance policy for his 1996 Ford F-250 in April 2016. He filed a claim in May, stating the truck was damaged in a collision at a Pasco storage facility. GEICO valued the damage at $8,038. The company found documentation from the storage facility that the collision occurred the day before he bought the policy. GEICO denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s investigators.
Nicholas Jones and Harjot Burns, both of Renton, were charged in King County Superior Court with one count each of filing a false insurance claim, a felony.
According to the investigation, Jones bought Progressive auto insurance on Oct. 14, 2018, for his 2006 Chevy Impala. Later that day he filed a claim, stating the car was damaged when Burns, his roommate, was a victim of a hit-and-run collision while driving it. Progressive estimated the Impala a total loss with a value of $1,650. Progressive found Washington State Patrol records showing that Burns was the at-fault driver in a hit-and-run collision at the interchange of I-5 and I-405 in King County before Jones bought the policy. The hit-and-run victim took pictures of Burns driving the car and the car’s license plate. Progressive denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s investigators.
Jonark Cunanan and Janine Cunanan, both of Seattle, were charged in King County Superior Court with one count each of filing a false insurance claim, a felony.
According to the investigation, Jonark Cunanan added his sister Janine’s 2012 Volkswagen Jetta to his Esurance auto policy on Jan. 26, 2018, listing her as the driver. Janine filed a claim for a collision she said happened on Feb. 11, and Esurance estimated the Jetta a total loss valued at $10,040. Bellevue Police records show Janine caused the collision on Jan. 10 when she rear-ended another vehicle. Esurance denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s investigators.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.
Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.