Former MTA Police Officer and Bus Driver Sentenced In Arson and Insurance Fraud Scheme

May 30, 2008

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis sentenced Ronald Lurz, age 35, of Baltimore, a fomer Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) police officer, to one year and a day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for use of fire to commit wire fraud, in connection with a scheme to have his vehicle burned in order to avoid repossession and further loan payments, and to have the car insurance company pay the outstanding loan balance on the vehicle, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Davis also ordered Lurz to perform 600 hours of community service during his term of supervised release. Judge Davis sentenced Lucretia Westbrook, age 35, of Baltimore, a former MTA bus driver, today to two years probation and ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service and to pay restitution of $36,728.94, for mail fraud in connection with the same scheme.

According to their plea agreements, Lurz and Westbrook contracted with James Walthall to dispose of their vehicles. In December 2003, Walthall helped Westbrook dispose of her 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe for a few hundred dollars, because she was having difficulty making the monthly payments. On December 15, 2003, Walthall picked up the Chevrolet Tahoe and caused it to be burned. Westbrook then filed a false police report and false insurance claim, and was relieved of her debt on the vehicle.

Similarly, on January 1, 2004, Walthall helped Ronald Lurz, another MTA police officer, dispose of his Audi Quattro TT in return for money. On January 1, 2004, Walthall picked up the Audi Quattro, received cash from Lurz and caused it to be burned. Lurz then filed a false police report and false insurance claim, and was relieved of over $34,000 of debt on the vehicle.
James Walthall, age 41, of Randallstown, Maryland, also a former MTA police officer, was sentenced on April 28, 2008 to five years in prison for mail fraud in connection with this scheme.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the investigative work performed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Baltimore City Police Department, and the Maryland Transit Administration. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Gruber and Kathleen Gavin, who prosecuted the cases.



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