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Spokane developer Ron Wells, 8 others plead guilty in 4 state insurance fraud scheme

Wells entered his plea for charges including mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Tuesday. He faces up to 60 years in prison maximum.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane developer Ron Wells pleaded guilty to nine felony counts related to fraud stemming from a "scheme to defraud insurance companies."

Wells accepted a plea deal in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on Tuesday, according to court documents. The court is located in Spokane.

As part of the plea agreement, Wells has pleaded guilty to nine counts. The charges include six counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, selling property gained from unlawful activity and one charge of conspiracy to sell property gained from unlawful activity, according to court documents.

The total maximum imprisonment from all counts combined is 60 years, according to the plea agreement. He may also be ordered to pay restitution for his crimes.

Wells is a famed Spokane developer and architect who transformed buildings, such as turning the San Marco Building into apartments and transforming the Eldrigde into Rocket Bakery and Fringe and Fray.

Wells also spoke with Avista in 1996 to renovate the Steam Plant.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Wells is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30, 2019, at 10 a.m. in Spokane.

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Wells was indicted on the charges by a grand jury on Dec. 18, 2018, according to court documents.

The charges stem from Wells' role in an alleged scheme led by Spokane County resident WIlliam Mize that started in September 2013. A total of 22 defendants were accused of taking part in a "scheme to defraud insurance companies and to obtain money from these companies by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.” 

Wells' indictment said that he, Mize and the other conspirators allegedly staged automobile accidents on remote roads to receive insurance payouts.

"A high percentage of the planned automobile crashes were two-vehicle accidents on remote roads at night where there were no witnesses other than the co-conspirator occupants of the intentional crashed vehicles,” the indictment said. 

Mize's attorney said they had no comment in regards to Wells' statement.

The alleged staged accidents included Mize injuring co-conspirators and using bottles of urine to pour on their clothes.

A statement from Wells' lawyer, Kevin Curtis, said that Wells' actions stemmed from an inability to pay back loans to Mize.

"His actions were a result of an inability to repay a personal loan from William Mize, who made veiled threats were he unable to pay," Curtis said.

The statement also spoke about Wells' time as a developer and said that his guilty plea was part of Wells' promise to take responsibility for his role in the alleged scheme.

“Prior to a staged accident, Mize purposely inflicted injuries on a co-conspirator to mislead responders and insurance companies into believing the co-conspirator was injured in the in the accident and to increase insurance payouts. Mize required co-conspirators to urinate in a bottle and pour urine on their clothing to create the false and misleading impression that a co-conspirator suffered a loss of consciousness," the indictment reads.

Wells is expected to be sentenced on July 30 at 10:00 a.m.

According to the release, eight others involved have also pleaded guilty to charges in the case.

Ryan Folks Park of Spokane pleaded guilty to 14 counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, two counts of conducting monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and one count of conspiracy to conduct monetary transaction in criminally derived property. 

The United States Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington said Park admitted to participating in at least thirteen accidents staged by co-conspirators between 2013 and 2017 in Washington, Nevada, California, and Idaho. Officials said the fraudulent insurance proceeds generated by the thirteen staged accidents totaled $2,836,852.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.

Kimberly Rita Boito of Spokane pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, two counts of conducting monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and one count of conspiracy to conduct monetary transaction in criminally derived property.  The United States Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington said Boito admitted to participating in at least four staged accidents generating $1,238,964 in fraud proceeds.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13.

Christopher Joseph Frangella of Nine Mile Falls pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  Frangella admitted to participating in five staged accidents in Washington, Idaho and Nevada.  Officials said fraudulent proceeds generated from the five accidents totaled $968,737.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.

Bonnie Jean Bonney of Placerville, California, pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Prosecutors said Bonney admitted to participating in at least four staged accidents in California and Nevada which generated $1,183,872 in fraudulent proceeds.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8.

Brittany Jo Harris of Newport, Washington, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  Prosecutors said Harris admitted to participating in at least two staged accidents in Idaho and California that generated $448,707 in fraudulent insurance proceeds.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 18.

Stephanie Stock of San Jose, California, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16.

Matthew David Carter of Las Vegas, Nevada pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  Prosecutors said Carter admitted to participating in two staged accidents in Las Vegas, Nevada, that generated $566,512 in fraud proceeds.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10.

Jason Allan Westfall of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  Prosecutors said Westfall admitted to participating in one stated accident in Las Vegas, Nevada, that generated $275,607 in fraud proceeds.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10.

The United States Attorney's Office for Eastern Washington said 11 other defendants have been named in an indictment and are awaiting trial.