For Consumers

Three plead guilty to felony insurance fraud charges after Kreidler investigation

Former insurance producer must repay $40,000 in stolen premiums

Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

October 27, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A former insurance producer and two others pleaded guilty to felony charges after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU). Additionally, a Tumwater man was charged with fraud and drug charges after causing a collision on Interstate 5 in King County. 

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Levi Watson, 45, of Bothell, pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court on Oct. 17 to one charge of first-degree theft, a felony. He was sentenced to serve 50 days in jail and to pay $40,000 in restitution and court fees.

The former Mill Creek insurance producer was charged in June after an investigation by Kreidler’s CIU. Watson was an agent for American Family Insurance from 2011-2014 and stole more than $21,000 in premiums from his clients; Kreidler’s investigators identified nearly $29,000 in additional possible theft. Watson stopped selling insurance in December 2014 and Kreidler revoked his insurance producer license in August 2015. 

 

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Jasmine Grothen, 25, of Longview, pleaded guilty in Cowlitz County Superior Court to one count of filing a false insurance claim, a felony. She was sentenced to serve 80 hours of community service and $1,800 in fines and fees.

According to the investigation, Grothen’s uninsured 2011 Volkswagen Jetta was stolen in October 2016 and was recovered with extensive front-end damage that made it not drivable. She purchased auto insurance a few days later from The General Insurance Co., then filed an $11,984 claim for the car’s total loss, giving a false collision date and circumstances.  

 

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Kelsey Gearring, 23, of Idaho, pleaded guilty in Asotin County Superior Court to filing a false insurance claim, a felony. She was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail and to pay $1,800 in court fees and fines. Gearring was previously listed on Kreidler’s insurance fraud most wanted webpage when she failed to appear in court to face charges. 

According to the investigation, Gearring damaged her 2008 GMC Acadia on June 22, 2016, when she ran off the road while distracted driving. She had only liability insurance coverage on her car at the time, so she added comprehensive and collision coverage the next day. On June 28, she filed a $9,600 claim with Allstate, saying she had hit a deer earlier that day. Investigators determined Gearring was in Asotin County jail on June 28 for violating a restraining order, and the accident could not have occurred the date of the claim. 

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Darius DeShazier, 24, of Tumwater, was charged in King County Superior Court with filing a false insurance claim and violating the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, both felonies. According to the investigation, in February 2016, DeShazier stopped his car in the HOV lane on Interstate 5 at night, leaving his lights off and getting out of the car. Another driver hit his car from behind, not seeing it until it was too late to stop. DeShazier and three passengers sought treatment at a Federal Way hospital, saying they were in the car at the time of the collision and were injured. The hospital submitted medical bills totaling $8,876 to Progressive. A few days later, DeShazier was treated at a Tacoma hospital for continued pain and the hospital sent Progressive a bill for $1,595. Both hospitals prescribed a narcotic to DeShazier because he complained of pain from the collision.  

Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the state Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors on 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.