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Press Release

Two Sentenced To Federal Prison For Insurance Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Idaho

Defendants Ordered to Pay Victim Insurance Companies Restitution of Over $147,000

COEUR D'ALENE – Michael Robert Persky, 45, and Shelley Lynn Dunkel, 42, of Malibu, California, were sentenced yesterday in United States District Court in Coeur d’Alene on multiple counts of wire fraud and mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge sentenced Persky to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, fined him $18,000, and ordered restitution of $92,636.61. Dunkel was sentenced to six months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, with the first six months on home detention, and ordered to pay restitution of $54,518.68.

Persky and Dunkel were convicted by a federal jury late last year following a seven day trial. Persky was convicted of ten counts of wire fraud and eight counts of mail fraud, and Dunkel of six counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud, for their scheme to defraud American Family Mutual Insurance Company and Progressive Northwestern Insurance Company. The jury heard evidence that from November 18, 2005, through June 26, 2008, Persky and Dunkel submitted false and fraudulent information to obtain homeowners, vehicle, and watercraft insurance in Idaho, although Persky’s permanent residence was based in California. The jury also heard evidence that Persky falsely claimed as stolen a 2002 XKS Jaguar, a 2005 Winnebago and its contents, and two watercraft and trailer. According to court records, Persky signed documentation relinquishing ownership of the property to the insurance carriers and received settlements of approximately $91,000. When the Jaguar and Winnebago were recovered, Persky took possession, but failed to notify the insurance carriers.

“These sentences reinforce the jury’s verdict and send the clear message that those who defraud the insurance system for their own personal gain will be punished,” said Olson. “This office will continue to work closely with our federal and state law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate and prosecute financial fraud. I commend the cooperative efforts that resulted in this successful prosecution.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to aggressively investigating those individuals who misuse the U.S. Mail for fraudulent purposes,” said Bradley Kleinknecht, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge, Seattle Division.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the Idaho State Department of Insurance.

Updated December 15, 2014