KC Woman Pleads Guilty to $235,000 Arson, Insurance Fraud Conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to her role in a $235,000 arson and insurance fraud conspiracy.
Tina L. Shonk, 35, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to one count of participating in a conspiracy to commit arson and wire fraud, and to one count of mail fraud.
By pleading guilty today, 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, burned the house with the help of co-conspirators, and then made false claims on the insured property resulting in a total loss to insurance companies of $235,464.
Co-defendant Roy Thieman, 31, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty on Sept. 2, 2015, to his role in the conspiracy.
In January 2014 Shonk obtained renter’s insurance in the amount of $60,000, 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, Thieman and other 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, Thieman and other 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 made false claims to the insurance company as to the value of her property, that her property was in the house at the time of the fire, and also that she had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the fire. The insurance company paid Shonk $57,364; she paid Thieman $2,500 and another 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, a property managed by one of her co-conspirators. The co-conspirators discussed repeating 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.”
Under federal statutes, Shonk is subject to a sentence of up to 25 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
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.