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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: insurance fraud

Man convicted for false insurance claim for $200,000

A man exaggerating the size of a damaged patio cover was convicted in Spokane County Superior Court today for filing a fraudulent insurance claim for nearly $200,000.

A real estate agent described the cover as “small and nothing special or significant,” according to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner news release, but 48-year-old Keith R. Scribner painted a different story when he filed a claim for a roof damaged by the weight of snow in 2009.

Scribner filed the claim on behalf of Marilyn Warsinske, his mother, whose policy covered a replacement, the news release said.

Even the claims representative thought the bids were a joke, the news release said, and Scribner was unable to prove the size of the patio cover through photos.

Actual photos of the home found on a real estate website did not depict the capacity Scribner described, the news release said.

Investigators contacted the previous homeowners who described the patio originally as canvas, but they bought a polycarbonate cover for about $300. Additional interviews with builders speculated bids would range to about $4,800.

Scribner will be sentenced in court on April 16 for insurance fraud and attempted theft.

Insurance agent gets 2 years for fraud

A former insurance agent and executive director of the Spokane Food Bank has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud.

James K. Sokolis, 56, is to be on probation for three years after his release and pay about $356,000 restitution, which is the amount he admitted to stealing from a Coeur d'Alene insurance company.

Sokolis previously owned and operated Rockwood Insurance in Coeur d'Alene.
He sold his share of the business in August 2010 and was hired to work for the new company. He was fired after admitting to misusing client money.

Sokolis “had been juggling his clients’ funds for months, hoping to come up with enough money at the right time to bring all policies current,” according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by his lawyer, Chris Bugbee.

He pleaded guilty in March to three counts of insurance fraud and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Coeur d'Alene.

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, commended the sentence in a prepared statement.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who are entrusted with other people’s money have an obligation to act honestly and for the benefit of their clients,” she said.

Bugbee described Sokolis as a “very well-respected” professional who has devoted much of his life to community service.

In addition to leading the food bank, Sokolis coached and served on the board for Spokane Youth Sports for about 20 years. He also served two years on the board for the Seattle YMCA and spent six years as the youth director of his church, according to the sentencing memorandum.
  

Spokane man admits stealing $350k

A Spokane man who embezzled more than $350,000 from a Coeur d'Alene insurance company has pleaded guilty to three federal felonies.

James K. Sokolis, 56, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of probation when he's sentenced June 12 by Judge B. Lynn Winmill in U.S. District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Sokolis pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of insurance fraud. Sokolis was an insurance agent who previously owned and operated Rockwood Insurance in Coeur d'Alene.

He sold his share of the business in August 2010 and was hired to work for the new company. He was fired after admitting to misusing client money. Sokolis misappropriated $356,629.46, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

$200k patio claim leads to fraud charge

A Spokane businessman has been charged with insurance fraud and attempted theft after officials say a snow-damaged patio cover worth about $4,000 mushroomed into a nearly $200,000 claim.

Keith R. Scribner, 47, pleaded not guilty Monday in Spokane County Superior Court on one count of insurance fraud and one count of attempted theft. He is represented by Carl Oreskovich.

Scribner's mother, Marilyn Warsinske, filed a claim to replace the patio with Liberty Mutual insurance in July 2009, according to the Office of the Washington State Insurance Commissioner.

Scribner sent the insurance company three bids between $195,586 to $213,815 to replace the cover and said no photos existed of the home prior to the damage, and that the home was never appraised, officials say.

But a claims handler discovered an aerial photo of the home on a real estate website that showed a much smaller patio cover than Scribner claimed. Investigators discovered Scribner had discussed plans to replace the deck in 2008 with bids at $3,913 and $4,782, leading to the felony charges.

Arsonist, career criminal gets 10 years

A serial arsonist’s criminal past earned the wrath Friday of a federal judge who sentenced the man to 10 years in prison.

Anthony W. Sotin, 42, previously agreed to accept responsibility for setting his own car on fire on Jan. 12 and torching a commercial building at 13412 E. Nora Ave. on Feb. 9.

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush was reluctant to accept the terms of the agreement, noting that Sotin’s first criminal conviction came at age 14.

“I have been on the federal bench from Houston, to Las Vegas to San Francisco and thousands of cases in my home district,” he said. “I don’t know that I have ever seen as an egregious criminal history as with you. A rational judge could conclude that Mr. Sotin should be locked up for the rest of his life to protect others.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

March 1: Arsonist pleads guilty after just 13 days

Feb. 19: Arrest made in building, vehicle fires

Aug. 8, 1997: Latest antics add to Sotin's long rap sheet

Arsonist pleads guilty after just 13 days

A longtime felon and litigation seeker faces 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to two arson fires in Spokane Valley.

Anthony W. Sotin, 42, was indicted by a grand jury just 13 days ago. He pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Spokane to use of a fire to commit a federal felony and malicious use of property to damage property used in interstate commerce.

Sotin will remain in custody pending sentencing, which is scheduled for May 27. The first charge mandates 10 years in prison; the second by at least five years and no more than 20. 

The plea deal calls for prosecutors to recommend Sotin be sentenced to 120 months in prison and three years probation. It also drops one count of wire fraud, which carried a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.

Sotin was accused of starting a fire in a building on Nora Avenue Feb. 9 and setting a car on fire Jan. 12, then filing a false insurance claim.

Sotin is well known by law enforcement and has filed more than 15 lawsuits against various government entities, including 12 in 1996 alone.

He currently has a lawsuit filed against the city of Spokane, alleging his rights were violated because he wasn't allowed to leave messages for a public defender representing him in a Municipal Court case.

Past coverage:

Feb. 19: Arrest made in building, vehicle fires

Aug. 8, 1997: Latest antics add to Sotin's long rap sheet

Felon jailed for arson, insurance fraud

A longtime felon who has filed at least 15 lawsuits against various government entities is in jail on federal arson and wire fraud charges. 

Anthony W. Sotin, 42 is accused of starting a fire in a vacant building on Nora Avenue and setting a car on fire Jan. 12, then filing a false insurance claim.

A hand-held torch was used to start the fires and in each case it was left behind by the arsonist.

Read Nina Culver's story here.

In 1997, Sotin was involved in a police chase that resulted in a story with this lead: Anthony Sotin has a history of bashing things: mailboxes, windows, his ex-wife’s nose. Read that story here.

Glass-eating scheme leads to prison

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts woman has been sentenced to more than four years in prison after admitting that she and her husband intentionally ate glass particles, then submitted false insurance claims.

Mary Evano was also ordered Tuesday to pay more than $340,000 in restitution. In September, she pleaded guilty to a 23-count federal indictment charging her with fraud, conspiracy and other offenses.

Federal prosecutors say that from 1997 to 2005, the couple collected more than $200,000 in compensation after filing insurance claims that they had been injured by restaurants, hotels and grocery stores that had served them food containing glass particles.

Evano's husband, Ronald Evano, pleaded guilty in 2007. He is serving five years in prison.

The couple incurred more than $100,000 in medical bills, which remain unpaid.

Ex-insurance agent gets 20 days for fraud

A former Mutual of Omaha insurance agent from Rathdrum is to spend 20 days in jail for submitting a life insurance policy application in a client’s name without her knowledge.

Wesley Bruce Thompson, 58, submitted the life insurance policy application by scanning the client’s signature from another policy and photocopying it onto the false application, according to a news release. He pleaded guilty to insurance fraud on July 29.

On Tuesday, Judge John Mitchell ordered Thompson to serve 20 days in jail, complete 400 hours of community service and pay $4,210 in restitution, the news release said.

The Special Prosecutions Unit of the Attorney General’s Criminal Law Division and the Idaho Department of Insurance investigated the case at the request of Mutual of Omaha.

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