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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Two More Defendants Sentenced to Federal Prison for Their Role in Staged Accident Scheme

Newport and Spokane Valley, Washington Residents Sentenced in Federal Court

Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Brittany Jo Harris, age 34, of Newport, Washington, and Michele Lee Smith, age 49, of Spokane Valley, Washington were sentenced for their respective participation in an insurance fraud scheme involving staged automobile, boating and stair fall accidents.  Chief United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Harris to a 13-month term of imprisonment and Smith to a 10-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after each is released from federal prison.  Chief Judge Rice also ordered Harris to pay restitution in the amount of $135,000 and forfeiture of $135,000, and Smith to pay restitution in the amount of $76,000 and forfeiture of $76,000.  Harris pled guilty in April 2019, to one count of healthcare fraud conspiracy, one count of mail and wire fraud conspiracy and two counts of mail fraud.  Smith pled guilty in May 2019, to guilty to one count of mail and wire fraud conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Harris was involved in five staged accidents (two automobile, one boating, and two stair fall) that defrauded insurance companies out of $997,202.  Harris received approximately $135,000 of the fraud proceeds.  Smith was involved in two staged stair fall accidents and one staged automobile accident in a parking lot that defrauded insurance companies out of $472,650.  Smith received approximately $76,000 of the fraud proceeds.  Harris and Smith played “injured victims” in several phony accidents and received medical treatment for fictitious or intentionally inflicted injuries.

United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Insurance and health care fraud are serious crimes that affect society in the form of higher premiums.  Harris and Smith’s fraudulent conduct also needlessly caused health care providers, emergency personnel and police officers to expend precious resources that otherwise could have been usd to assist true victims.  The sentence imposed reflects the roles Harris and Smith played in the scheme.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is dedicated to prosecuting aggressively those individuals who may engage in such conduct.  I commend the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service for their outstanding work investigating this case.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington Criminal Healthcare Fraud Investigator, with assistance from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  This case was prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, and Brian Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.  

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 
2:18-CR-00232-TOR-9; 2:18-CR-00232-TOR-16
Updated January 8, 2020