Independence Woman Sentenced for $235,000 Arson, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., woman was sentenced in federal court today for her role in a $235,000 arson and insurance fraud conspiracy.
Tina L. Shonk, 35, of Independence, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to three years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Shonk to pay $242,717 in restitution to her victims and to forfeit to the government $62,364.
On Jan. 29, 2016, Shonk pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit arson and wire fraud, and to one count of mail fraud. Shonk admitted that she led an arson and insurance fraud conspiracy in 2014. Shonk obtained renter’s insurance on a house she rented in the 3500 block of Garfield in Kansas City, Mo., then burned the house with the help of co-conspirators, and made false claims on the insured property.
Co-defendant Roy Thieman, 31, of Kansas City, also pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and awaits sentencing.
In January 2014 Shonk obtained renter’s insurance, claiming personal property valued at $82,000, much more than the value of her personal property. At the time, Shonk owed approximately $7,929 in back due rent and the gas had been shut off due to non-payment. On April 2 and 3, 2014, Shonk and her co-conspirators moved any personal property of value to a storage unit. They also moved damaged and broken electronic equipment and appliances into the house so that it would appear that valuable appliances were destroyed. By this time, Shonk owed $10,356 in back due rent and her landlord had begun eviction proceedings.
On April 4, 2014, Shonk and her co-conspirators set fire to the house by covering a space heater with a blanket and setting fire to the blanket, and then leaving the house. The Kansas City Fire Department extinguished the fire but the house was a total loss.
After the fire, Shonk submitted fraudulent personal property claims totaling $112,789, although several witnesses and Shonk’s landlord estimated Shonk’s property to be valued at only approximately $500. The insurance company paid Shonk $57,364; she paid Thieman $2,500 and a third co-conspirator $4,000.
The owner of the house had an insurance policy that paid out a total of $173,100.
In May 2014, Shonk and Thieman moved into a house in the 3800 block of Pittman Road in Kansas City, Mo., a property managed by a fourth co-conspirator. On Oct. 18, 2014, police arrested this co-conspirator and found a letter from Thieman to Shonk outlining a plan to repeat the arson insurance fraud scheme at the house on Pittman Road. Thieman wrote a letter to Shonk outlining plans to insure their personal property and then burn the house, stating in part, “there can be no evidence, nor signs of foul play, or accelerant.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen D. Mahoney. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.