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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA

Betsy C. Jividen
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY


1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist

 

May 20, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

May 20, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Four Individuals Enter Pleas of Guilty
and Three Individuals Sentenced in Federal Court

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA - Four individual entered pleas of guilty and three individuals were sentenced this week, in Clarksburg by Judge Irene M. Keeley.

United States Attorney Betsy C. Jividen announced that:

CHRISTOPHER BRAGG, age 32, of Salem, West Virginia, and JAMES WOODSON, age 36, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, entered pleas of guilty on May 17, 2010, to one count of an Indictment charging them with committing wire fraud in furtherance of an insurance fraud scheme from July of 2001 to April of 2007. It was part of the scheme to purposely inflict damage to vehicles and staged motor vehicle accidents, then file false insurance claims to collect monetary settlements from insurance companies for vehicle damage and personal injuries. As part of the scheme, defendants caused $191,910 of loss to insurance companies and health care providers for fraudulent insurance settlements and unnecessary medical treatment. BRAGG and WOODSON, who are free on bond pending sentencing, face a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew R. Cogar and was investigated by the West Virginia Insurance Commission, Office of Inspector General.

AMIR MILLER, also known as BIZ, age 27 and ROBERT ABRAM, age 32, both of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, entered pleas of guilty on May 18, 2010, to one count of an Indictment charging them with aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin on September 3, 2009, in Monongalia County, West Virginia. MILLER, who is in custody, and ABRAM who is free on bond pending sentencing, face a maximum exposure of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the Mon Valley Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, consisting of officers from the Morgantown Police Department and the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department.

ARTHUR BUCHANAN, of Ritchie County, West Virginia, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. BUCHANAN entered a plea of guilty on February 11, 2010, to one count charging him with manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants from the Fall of 2006 to November 8, 2006, in Ritchie County. BUCHANAN, who is free on bond, will self-report to the designated Federal institution. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the West Virginia State Police.

WILBUR MARVIN HIGGINBOTHAM, age 42, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was sentenced on May 18, 2010, to 37 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. HIGGINBOTHAM entered a plea of guilty on February 8, 2010, to two counts of an Indictment charging him with the distribution of heroin on August 20, 2009, and and one of possession of firearms on September 4, 2009, in Monongalia County. HIGGINBOTHAM, who was previously convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year, on September 27, 2002, is prohibited from possessing firearms. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the West Virginia State Police-Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

MARCUS BROOKS, age 33, a Federal inmate at USP Hazelton entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced on May 18, 2010, to 12 months and 1 day imprisonment to run consecutive to the sentence he is currently serving. BROOKS entered a plea of guilty to the possession of as prohibited object (a weapon) while he was an inmate at USP Hazelton. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigative Services at FCI Hazelton. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David E. Godwin.

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