Western District of Missouri | Columbia, KC man pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit $1.1 million in insurance fraud

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — A Kansas City, Missouri man, who formerly lived in Columbia, Missouri, has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a $1.1 million insurance fraud conspiracy in which it concerned false claims of injuries sustained in car accidents. and his role in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 relief.

Lawrence Courtney Lawhorn, 35, pleaded guilty Thursday, June 8 before US Judge Willie J. Epps Jr. to the charges contained in two separate federal indictments. In the first indictment, Lawhorn pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In the second indictment, Lawhorn pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Lawhorn is among 17 defendants who have pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme that defrauded six insurance companies from June 2017 to July 2020. The conspirators made false claims that they suffered physical injuries and were personally liable for any related medical bills and insurance claims. The conspirators, some involved in multiple incidents, were paid thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, of dollars based on these false claims. However, none of the conspirators made any payments to medical providers, instead using the funds for their personal expenses.

Lawhorn was directly involved in two incidents in which he received separate payments of $1,500 and $17,350 from insurance companies. In several other incidents, Lawhorn emailed insurance companies, made phone calls to insurance companies, directed others what to tell insurance companies, reviewed insurance policies prior to incidents, witnessed release agreements, and impersonated parties involved in or associated with the incidents People to those involved in these incidents in communicating with the insurance companies.

In today’s guilty plea, Lawhorn admitted he was involved in nine auto accidents in June and December 2017, May and August 2018, and January, February, August, October and December 2019 as part of the insurance fraud scheme that resulted in the total loss Loss to his victims of $1,148,198. Most accidents occurred in Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri, with one accident in St. Louis, Missouri.

FBI agents seized Lawhorn’s iPhone and Apple Mac laptop when he was arrested in the insurance fraud case. A detective with the Boone County Cyber ​​Crimes Task Force found evidence of further fraud while searching these devices, leading to Lawhorn being charged in the second case.

By pleading guilty to the second federal indictment today, Lawhorn admitted to fraudulently obtaining three $10,000 COVID-19 stimulus loans for non-existent businesses as part of a fraud conspiracy on his behalf and on behalf of two others . He also applied for loans online on behalf of five other people, but those applications were denied.

Under the CARES Act, the Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) provided loan assistance, including $10,000 in advances for small businesses. EIDL proceeds could be used to pay off fixed debt, payrolls, accounts payable and other small business-related bills that could have been paid had the pandemic not happened. A company applying for an EIDL relief was entitled to an advance of $1,000 per employee for up to 10 employees that did not have to be repaid.

Under federal law, Lawhorn faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each of the three conspiracy charges, plus a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence for aggravated identity theft. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes because the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on advisory sentencing guidelines and other legal factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled upon the completion of an attendance investigation by the US Parole Board.

These cases are being prosecuted by US Assistant Attorney Aaron M. Maness. They were investigated by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, the Boone County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.