Phony Accidents in Insurance Fraud Conspiracy Case Send a Spokane Man to Jail

Phony Accidents in Insurance Fraud Conspiracy Case Send a Spokane Man to Jail

A man from Spokane, Washington, has been sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture cost. Richard Wells was convicted for his conspiracy role in defrauding insurance companies more than 5.5 million dollars while staging automobile accidents.  While the defendant was sentenced after pleading guilty by admitting to participating in only one instance, he was accused alongside others for another situation where he again benefited from fraudulent claims and laundered the proceeds according to the indictment. In the successful conviction, the prosecution demonstrated the role he played in causing, and helping others create untrue claims from insurance companies. His sentence is a significant step towards the efforts put by the investigating team and legal system to fight phony accidents and fraud in general.


In the court during the plea hearing, Mr. Wells acknowledged he participated in the fraud but only once using his car. Consequently, he admitted the fraud involved accident was staged in Liberty Lake, Washington, where he lied to the authorities that he was the driver. The court learned that his vehicle was driven intentionally to another car belonging to the co-accused. Yet, another fake claim emerged, on personal accident from this scheme but involved another individual. His co-conspirator, Chris Frangella, was the owner of the other pick truck that was used to make claims. Wells then lied to insurance and police that he was the driver and was to blame, but it was an accident. From this single incident, he admitted they received 338,000 dollars.


The investigator unearthed the way the proceeds from the phony accident were spent. In their submission, they elucidated Wells spent 80,000 to pay debts, including a loan on the vehicle. While his co-accused was not sentenced together with Wells, his role might not go scot-free. The third individual who was believed to be a conspirator took advantage of the automobile claim settlement to lodge a personal accident claim arguing she suffered bodily injury in the scene of the purported accident by Wells and Frangella. Ms. Talenta is said to have received the benefits, although no accident occurred, and neither was she injured. Ms. Talenta had pleaded guilty to various charges she faced regarding this and other staged accidents in 2019. In November 2019, she was jailed for five years and ten months for her responsibility in fraudulent claims against insurance companies. Additionally, she was handed three years of court supervision plus restitution and forfeiture of 2.1 million dollars.


The accused has many more suspicions of conspiracy and fraud, although he was a respected senior member of the society. More so, the property he acquired and the manner of the acquisition was questionable. Therefore, his financial transactions revealed laundered proceeds of crime from other phony accident claims. For instance, the court proceedings show in another staged accident with other people not before the court, Mr. Wells was accused of staging an accident in September 2016 in California and generated 313,000 dollars. This time, he committed this crime alongside Rayes-Tajimaroa and others, further using a fake identity to claim from the insurance company. Incidentally, the insurance company settled 152,200 dollars in two checks of 90 dollars and 62,500 dollars in February 2017 at separate dates. Wells and Rayes-Tajimaroa used ‘Andrew Arceo’ received the checks as co-payees, but they were deposited into Wells’ bank account.

Further analysis indicated the defendant made withdrawals immediately from the account. Incidentally, the bank account was also used to pay a mortgage for another individual. Details of the property showed it was located at Spokane, Washington. Although Wells was a well-known and respected property developer, his involvement with the crime has significantly impaired his social and economic stature. The racket of fraudsters targeting insurance companies with fake claims could be minimized reading from the arrest and prosecutions of individuals in this scheme. Wells’ sentencing comes after two other conspirators were convicted in a similar case.

The investigating team successfully presented the evidence in court that saw Teresa Ann Gonzalez and Michael White go to jail. They were critical masterminds of this kind of fraud scheme, which they used for several years to steal from insurance companies.  While both pleaded guilty on various occasions in 2019, they were sentenced together. Additionally, the state seized all the property believed to be acquired with the proceeds of this crime besides serving jail terms. Gonzales and White were sentenced to prison for ten months and 14 months, respectively.

The FBI special agent warned greedy individuals would face the consequences of their actions. Besides, the office of the attorney general retaliated that more individuals would be brought to justice following this case.  Although these defendants have been sentenced, more events are expected to unfold with initial reports indicating 33 cases of staged accidents were under investigation. These claims had caused substantial loss to insurance companies and were impacting on innocent motorists who would be required to pay more insurance premiums. In the case of wells alone, it is alleged he has participated in fraudulent claims that had caused insurers more than 5.5 m dollars. Other conspirators could be charged and sentenced any time according to the authorities.


Since this claim involves a larger group of cartels operating to defraud insurers, it could have accomplices from different sections of the society. Please report anyone involved in staging accidents and making fraudulent claims. Also, do not accept being used to commit crimes. Motorists should avoid staging accidents or allowing their vehicles to be used by criminals. Company employees, insurance loss assessors, and adjusters should be cautious and keen when handling claims, and when they discover unusual details in the accidents, they should involve the police immediately.


Defendants convicted of phony accidents and money laundering crimes can be sentenced to ten years in prison and pay hefty fines if found guilty by a court of law. Further, the financial consequences of losing personal property believed to be acquired using illicit cash can be devastating, mainly where the individual is accused of these crimes wrongly. To avoid such consequences, they should get an experienced team of defense lawyers to represent them in courts. Healthcare Fraud Group has been providing the best lawyers in court representation for professionals facing such criminal charges for years. Talk to our criminal defense attorneys who have a track record of diligently representing clients and getting justice. Make a call to 888-402-4054 to speak to a legal expert in the healthcare malpractices at Healthcare Fraud Group now.