Two Washington state women were sentenced after pleading guilty to committing insurance fraud after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).
Katherine Hargarten, 67, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim, both felonies. Hargarten, a former dental clinic office manager, will serve three months of electronic home monitoring and 240 hours of community service. She will pay $817 in court fees and a restitution amount to be determined later.
According to the investigation, Hargarten filed 55 claims with MetLife insurance from June 2008 to June 2015 totaling $17,908 on behalf of her husband. Most of the claims – 38 – were for treatment that never occurred; the remainder were treatments the dentist provided to employees for free. The dentist discovered the questionable claims and reported them to MetLife, which in turn reported them to Kreidler’s CIU, as required by state law. The dentist’s office terminated Hargarten’s employment in January 2016.
Shannon Schroeder, 39, pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court to one count of filing a fraudulent insurance claim, a felony. She will serve 20 days in Enhanced Community Center for Alternative Programs. She will pay $500 in court fees and a restitution amount to be determined later.
According to the investigation, Schroeder filed a claim with Esurance in July 2016 after she rear-ended another car on Interstate 5 in the Seattle area. The estimated amount of the claim for damage to both cars was approximately $9,500. Schroeder purchased the insurance policy an hour after the collision and waited one day to file the claim. The insurance company denied the claim and referred the case to CIU.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office charged Schroeder in April 2017. Schroeder was previously placed on Kreidler’s insurance fraud most wanted list after she failed to appear in King County Superior Court in December 2017.
Kreidler’s CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the state Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the Commissioner. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.