News and Press Releases

Robert Shane Peterson Sentenced in U.S. District Court

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on July 12, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, ROBERT SHANE PETERSON, a 43-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. PETERSON was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 15 months

Special Assessment: $100

Restitution: $155,018.65

Supervised Release: 3 years

PETERSON was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to mail fraud.

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:

Ryan Shipman was a claims representative for Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company ("Mountain West") in Billings. 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. Shipman processed claims resulting from hail damage, automobile accidents, property damage and personal injuries.

From October of 2008 until September of 2010, PETERSON, a client of Mountain West, and Shipman conspired to defraud the insurance company by paying PETERSON and/or one of his many companies additional money for existing claims involving PETERSON and/or his companies on PETERSON's insurance claims. 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. Once the claim was submitted by Shipman to Mountain West, Mountain West issued a check from their Wyoming office to PETERSON or one of his business entities and mailed it to one of the various addresses in Montana provided by Shipman and PETERSON. The checks were cashed or deposited by PETERSON into one of his bank accounts and the proceeds of the fraud were split between Shipman and PETERSON. PETERSON either provided Shipman with cash or with a check for his half of the fraudulent funds. The false claims submitted by Shipman and PETERSON were completely fictitious. The evidence demonstrates that during the course of the scheme Shipman and PETERSON obtained over $150,000 fraudulently.

In interviews with law enforcement PETERSON confessed to his role in the scheme, specifically, to obtaining insurance payments for work he and his companies never performed.

Shipman pled guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced on May 5, 2011, to 21 months custody with the Bureau of Prisons.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that PETERSON will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, PETERSON does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



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