Newport and Spokane Valley, Washington residents sentenced in federal court
Date: January 8, 2020
Spokane – Brittany Jo Harris of Newport, Washington, and Michele Lee Smith 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.