February 12, 2016
OLYMPIA, Wash. – One woman pleaded guilty and felony charges were filed in three insurance fraud cases, all in Spokane County Superior Court, after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Kendel Sonsalla, 39, pleaded guilty to making a false claim for health care payment and was sentenced to 24 hours of community service, $800 in court fees, and to pay $6,470 in restitution to AFLAC. Sonsalla was charged with two counts of false insurance claims and one count of first-degree theft in connection with fraudulent billings to AFLAC between 2010 and 2014 after an investigation by Kreidler’s fraud unit. According to the investigation, Sonsalla worked at a dental clinic in Liberty Lake that provided an AFLAC supplemental dental policy to its employees. AFLAC paid Sonsalla $6,470 for 19 false claims she filed using family members’ names.
Gregory Guzman, 50, of Spokane, was charged with two counts of second-degree theft. Guzman formerly worked as an insurance agent in Spokane. According to the investigation, the manager of the insurance agency where Guzman worked found evidence in November 2013 that insurance premiums from a local business were not deposited into the agency’s account. 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. The agency fired Guzman and notified Kreidler’s SIU. Guzman’s license to sell insurance was revoked in September 2014.
Tony Whitt, 51, of Spokane, was charged with one count of first-degree attempted theft and one count of submitting a false insurance claim. According to the investigation, Whitt reported to his insurance company and the police in February 2014 that his 2011 Ford F350 truck was stolen from his driveway. In July 2014, the police found the truck in the employee parking lot at a Spokane Ford auto dealership. Police records indicated that Whitt had the F350 appraised for a trade-in in January 2014 when he purchased two vehicles that month. Whitt failed to appear at his Feb. 8 arraignment and the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
Crystal Wheeler and James Thomas III, both 39, were charged with one count each of attempted first-degree theft, solicitation and false insurance claims. According to the investigation, Wheeler filed a claim that her 1936 Ford truck was damaged by an acquaintance. The acquaintance said Thomas approached him to file the insurance claim and split the settlement, which Thomas estimated would net the acquaintance $6,000 to $10,000. The acquaintance refused, and said Wheeler and Thomas obtained his auto insurance policy information and submitted the claim without his knowledge while he was out of state. The acquaintance gave investigators a recording of a conversation where Thomas described driving the truck and colliding with another driver, and text messages from Wheeler saying she had filed a claim for the damage with the acquaintance’s insurance company. Wheeler failed to appear at the Feb. 8 arraignment and the judge issued a warrant for her arrest.
Kreidler’s SIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs an average of 10 cents for every dollar consumers pay in premiums. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.
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