Ryan Paul Shipman Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on February 1, 2011, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, RYAN PAUL SHIPMAN, a 37-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to mail fraud. Sentencing has been set for May 5, 2011. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
SHIPMAN was a claims adjustor for Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company ("Mountain West") in Billings. Mountain West is headquartered in Laramie, Wyoming. SHIPMAN was employed by Mountain West from October 2003 through September 2010. SHIPMAN was responsible for handling property and casualty insurance claims for policy holders.
From October of 2008 until September of 2010, SHIPMAN and a client of Mountain West, R.P., conspired to defraud the insurance company by paying SHIPMAN, R.P. or one of R.P.'s many companies, additional money for existing claims involving R.P. and his companies. SHIPMAN would also select insurance claims from other policy holders, without their knowledge, and add additional charges such as deck repairs, vehicle storage fees, siding repairs and water damage repairs to their insurance claim. SHIPMAN and R.P. would create false invoices to support the insurance claims being submitted to Mountain West. The false invoices were submitted for work allegedly done by companies owned by R.P. or R.P. individually. Once the claim, supporting documentation and invoices were submitted by SHIPMAN to Mountain West, Mountain West issued a check from their Wyoming office and mailed it to SHIPMAN, R.P. or one of the various addresses in Montana provided by the conspirators. Mountain West relied on the documentation submitted by SHIPMAN in paying the insurance claims. Mountain West's process of mailing the check from its Wyoming office was standard practice and well known by SHIPMAN.
Once the checks for the fraudulent claims were received, they were cashed or deposited by SHIPMAN or by R.P. into one of his bank accounts. The proceeds of the fraud were then split between SHIPMAN and R.P.. R.P. either provided SHIPMAN with cash or with a check for his half of the fraudulent funds.
The claims submitted by SHIPMAN and R.P. were completely fictitious. No actual work was ever performed by SHIPMAN, R.P., or any of R.P.'s companies for the insurance claims submitted to and paid by Mountain West.
SHIPMAN faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.