For Consumers

Yakima County charges business owner and mom with felonies in two insurance fraud cases

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February 14, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Two Yakima County residents were charged in Superior Court in connection with separate auto insurance fraud claims. The charges followed investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).

William Gaethle, courtesy WA DOL

William Gaethle, of Yakima, was charged with first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim, both felonies. According to the investigation, Gaethle reported a 1995 Ford van stolen from his business in February 2016. He filed a claim with Cincinnati Insurance, which paid him $19,550 for the van, which he insured on his commercial auto policy. Gaethle told police that a former employee stole the van from the business. Yakima Police determined the van was owned by the former employee, and Gaethle didn’t have the documentation to prove he owned it. Cincinnati Insurance later asked Gaethle to return the payment, which he declined to do.  The insurer referred the case to Kreidler’s detectives. 

Tara Lee Tillett, of Selah, was charged with attempted first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim, both felonies. According to the investigation, Tillett’s son caused a two-car collision on April 3, 2018, while driving her 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer. At the time of the collision, the Trailblazer

Tara Lee Tillett, courtesy WA DOL

and two other cars on Tillett’s auto policies didn’t have collision coverage. Eight minutes after the collision, Tillett logged into her PEMCO account to add collision coverage and the next day filed a $5,368 claim for the damage to her vehicle. PEMCO denied the claim and referred the case to Kreidler’s detectives. 

Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with 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.