October 12, 2016
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance fraud cases investigated by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) have resulted in felony convictions against three people.
David Cook, 51, pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court of attempted first-degree theft. He is in Pierce County jail pending sentencing on Dec. 20 and also faces charges in King County Superior Court in another insurance fraud investigation.
Cook was in an auto collision in August 2013 with a truck owned by a plumbing business. The driver of the commercial vehicle ran a red light and Cook, who had the right of way, collided with him. Cook filed a wage-loss claim with the plumbing company’s insurer using falsified documents and information. The insurer and Kreidler’s detectives found no evidence that the company Cook said he worked for existed.
Cook failed to appear in Pierce County court in July to face the charges against him. He was placed on Kreidler’s insurance fraud most wanted list and was arrested by Kreidler’s SIU detectives on Aug. 8. He’s been in jail since his arrest.
Andrew Washburn, 29, was found guilty in Kitsap County Superior Court of attempted second-degree theft. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail. That time was converted to 96 hours of community service and the rest of his sentence suspended. In addition, the U.S. Navy disciplined Washburn and then involuntarily discharged him.
On Sept. 21, 2015, Washburn was in an auto collision in Silverdale, caused by Crystal Truemper. Truemper asked Washburn to hold off on filing a claim because she did not have insurance on her car. Later that day, Truemper purchased insurance from Esurance and told Washburn to proceed with filing a claim. Both drivers filed claims stating the collision happened on Sept. 24. However, the auto repair estimate that Washburn gave to his insurance was dated Sept. 22. Both were charged in the case; Truemper’s case is set for trial on Nov. 28 on charges of attempted first-degree theft, conspiracy, and filing a false insurance claim.
Crystal Wheeler, 40, was found guilty in Spokane County Superior Court of attempted second-degree theft. She was sentenced to 364 days in jail, which was converted to credit for serving three days and the remainder of the sentence suspended.
Wheeler was charged with James Thomas III. Wheeler filed an auto insurance claim with Safeco in September 2014 that her 1936 Ford truck was damaged by an acquaintance who backed into it. The investigation determined the Ford was actually damaged by Thomas, who asked the acquaintance to file the claim and then split the settlement. 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.
Thomas pleaded guilty to filing a false insurance claim, a felony, in Spokane County Superior Court last month. He was sentenced to four months of electronic home monitoring and to pay court fees.
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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