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Woman sentenced for role in $5.6 million staged accident scheme in Idaho and other states

Crime Watch

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The following is a news release from the United States Attorney Eastern District of Washington.

SPOKANE, Washington — William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Sandra Victoria Talento, age 58, of Spokane, Washington, and Henderson, Nevada, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty in June 2019, to nineteen counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of money laundering, and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

Chief United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice sentenced Talento to a 70-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after she is released from federal prison. Chief Judge Rice also ordered Talento to pay restitution in the amount of $2,100,000 and forfeiture of $2,100,000.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Talento was an integral member of an extensive money laundering, insurance and healthcare fraud scheme that staged over thirty accidents in Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada that defrauded nineteen insurance companies out of $5,659,026 by filing fraudulent bodily injury claims. Talento played an “injured victim” in at least thirteen of the phony accidents and received medical treatment for fictitious or intentionally inflicted injuries to her head and other parts of her body. Talento also laundered proceeds generated by the scheme. In one twenty-day period in 2013, Talento deposited over $86,000 in fraud proceeds into her bank account. During a six-month period in 2014, she deposited over $270,000 in fraud proceeds into her account.

United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Sandra Victoria Talento and her cohorts operated a sophisticated insurance/healthcare fraud and money laundering scheme over several years in four different states. Fraud schemes like these ultimately create higher insurance premiums for consumers. The sentence imposed reflects the significant role Talento played in the scheme and the fact that she profited from her fraud at the expense of the insurance and healthcare system. This also sends a strong message to those who may seek to line their pockets through fraud and launder their ill-gotten gains. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is committed to prosecuting aggressively those individuals who may engage in such conduct. I commend the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Marshals Service for their outstanding work investigating this case.”

“Frauds such as the ones committed by Ms. Talento are not victimless crimes,” said Raymond P. Duda, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Seattle. “Cases such as this demonstrate the commitment of the FBI to identify and pursue investigations against these offenders.”

“Sandra Talento was personally involved in staged accidents that generated more than $5.5 million dollars of fraudulent insurance proceeds. Schemes like this cause hard-working American taxpayers to foot the bill by paying higher insurance premiums,” said Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “IRS-CI will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to prosecute those individuals that choose greed at the expense of their fellow citizens.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington Criminal Healthcare Fraud Investigator, with assistance from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. This case was prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, and Brian Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.