Four Jefferson County Men Indicted on Federal Mail Fraud Charges

BEAUMONT, April 1, 2013 - Four Port Arthur, Texas men have been indicted and arrested in connection with a mail fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

An indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2013, charging Christopher Thomas, 41; Lawrence Thomas, 42; Haleem Collins, 35; and Quarmi Garlington, 25, with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

The indictment, which was unsealed today, alleges that from November 6, 2006 to March 8, 2012, the defendants conspired with each other to defraud numerous auto insurance companies by submitting fraudulent insurance claims for personal injury and economic loss through the U.S. Postal Service. According to the indictment, the defendants repeatedly staged automobile collisions in Port Arthur after having purchased policies on the vehicles involved. Once the defendants either actually crashed the vehicles or staged a collision, they would contact police and assume the roles of drivers and passengers for emergency personnel. The indictment also alleges that the defendants would use aggressive driving tactics to induce automobile accidents with other unsuspecting drivers. Following these collisions, the defendants would falsely claim to be injured and submit, by means of the mail, fraudulent accident claims.

The defendants were taken into custody and made initial appearances this week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Port Arthur Police Department; and the National Insurance Crime Bureau and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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