19 Columbia, KC Residents Indicted for $1.2 Million Insurance Fraud Conspiracy

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Nineteen defendants, primarily from the Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri, areas, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a $1.2 million insurance fraud conspiracy that involved false claims of injuries suffered in car accidents.

Lawrence Courtney Lawhorn, 32, and Latoya Marie Brown, 35, who resided in Columbia and in the Kansas City area; Lauren Courtney Luque, 34, Michael Jadon Carter, 30, Tiera Rachell Wallace, 38, Lanay Deshawn Wallace, 26, Dylan James Danielsson, 26, Larell Montez Banks, 27, Kathy Davvy Kimhang, 29, Michael Lee Gene Stapleton, 34, and Cedrick Shawndale Goldman, 44, all of Columbia; Matthew Stephen Akins, 32, who resided in Columbia and Fulton, Mo.; Michael Stuart Smith, 34, Taron Donte Ford, 35, Dontay Laray Campbell, 31, and Eriona Tyjaez Fleeks, 28, all of Kansas City, Mo.; Cornelius Deshawn Phelps, 35, who resided in Kansas City and Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Tara Colleen Jackson, 57, of Independence, Mo.; and Maurice Frank Penny, 37, of St. Louis, Mo., were charged in a 69-count superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Nov. 18, 2020.

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The superseding indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants. The superseding indictment replaces an indictment returned on Aug. 19, 2020, which originally charged only Lawhorn and Luque with eight counts related to the fraud conspiracy.

The federal indictment charges all 19 defendants with participating in a conspiracy that defrauded six insurance companies of a total of $1,234,581 from June 2017 to July 2020. Conspirators allegedly submitted false claims that they had suffered bodily injuries and that they would be personally liable for any medical bills related to insurance claims. Conspirators, some of whom were involved in multiple incidents, received thousands of dollars, and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars, based on these false claims. According to the indictment, however, none of the conspirators made any payments to medical providers and instead used the funds for their personal expenses.

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Lawhorn was directly involved in two incidents in which he received separate payments of $1,500 and $17,350 from insurance companies, the indictment says. In eight additional incidents, Lawhorn allegedly sent emails to insurance companies, made telephone calls to insurance companies, directed others what to tell insurance companies, reviewed insurance policies prior to incidents, witnessed release agreements, and assumed the identity of parties to the incidents or people related to parties to these incidents in communication with insurance companies.

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Luque (with whom Lawhorn was in a romantic relationship), Jackson (who is Lawhorn’s mother), Carter, Banks, and Stapleton each received fraudulent insurance payments of $50,000 or more, according to the indictment. Lawhorn also was in romantic relationships with Kimhang and Brown, who has a child in common with Lawhorn. Brown was involved in three incidents, the indictment says, and received a total of $44,269 in insurance payments. Kimhang received a fraudulent insurance payment of $18,429, according to the indictment.

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In addition to the wire fraud conspiracy, most of the defendants are charged with participating in a mail fraud conspiracy. Lawhorn and Carter are also charged together in a money-laundering conspiracy. The indictment also charges various defendants in 38 counts of wire fraud, six counts of attempted wire fraud, and 20 counts of mail fraud. Lawhorn is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft. Lawhorn and Luque are also charged together in one count of aggravated identity theft.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron M. Maness. It