EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFRAUDULENT CLAIMS
from Eyewitness News Online
Two Sentenced For Submitting False Claims For Power Surge Damage
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Oct. 3, 2012 10:29 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Two defendants were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison for submitting fraudulent claims for power surge damage to American Electric Power.
Mark Ingram, 42, and Karen Hodges, 32, both of Nitro, were sentenced to one year and one day in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A third defendant, Crystal Ingram, 32, of Nitro, was sentenced to five years' probation and eight months of home confinement as a condition of her probation, the release said.
The defendants admitted that they conspired with former AEP property damage claims adjuster Deborah Farmer, 47, to unlawfully obtain money from AEP by submitting fraudulent claims for power surge damage. A two-year investigation revealed that false claims were filed with AEP related to power surge damage to homes. Mark Ingram and Crystal Ingram each admitted that they joined the conspiracy to commit mail fraud when they filed fraudulent claims and received the fraudulent checks through the mail. The defendants then cashed the checks, took a portion of the payoff and gave the remaining proceeds back to Farmer or other defendants. Claims checks, ranging from $2,000 to as much as $25,000 per fraudulent claim, were mailed to several known individuals, including Hodges, at various times between March 2009 and March 2010.
Farmer was sentenced to three years in prison in August.
A total of 57 fraudulent claims were filed resulting in a loss to AEP of about $598,485.
The court ordered Mark Ingram to pay $52,792 in restitution; Crystal Ingram to pay $69,966 in restitution; and Karen Hodges to pay $37,099 in restitution.
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