YAKIMA, Wash. – Two Yakima County residents have been charged with insurance fraud after state investigators said they tried to file false claims.
In a news release sent out Thursday, the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced fraud charges against William Gaethle of Yakima and Tara Lee Tillett of Selah.
According to court documents, Gaethle, 45, reported that a company van was missing from his business in the 2100 block of West Nob Hill Boulevard on Feb. 3, 2016, according to court documents. While a recently fired employee was the registered owner of the van at the time, Gaethle said he had planned to buy the vehicle but there was no contract, the documents said.
Officers told Gaethle that the former employee still had the van, but in April 2016 Gaethle filed an insurance claim reporting the van as stolen. Gaethle said he did not know where it was.
The insurer paid him $19,550.80 for the van, but the insurance company later learned that the former employee had the van and Gaethle knew it when he filed the claim, according to court documents. Gaethle, state insurance investigators said in court documents, never returned the money.
He was charged with first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim.
Through his attorney, Patrick True, Gaethle waived his arraignment, entered a not-guilty plea and requested a jury trial, according to court documents.
In the second case, Tillett, 46, added collision coverage for an SUV her son had crashed eight minutes earlier in April, according to court documents, and then tried to file a claim the next day, saying the wreck occurred nearly an hour after she changed her coverage.
Insurance investigators said police call logs and collision reports showed that Tillett’s son’s crash occurred before she changed coverage on the vehicle. Her carrier never paid the $5,300 claim.
Tillett was charged with attempted first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim, and she is expected to appear in Yakima County Superior Court Feb. 26.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In August 2019, prosecutors agreed to drop insurance fraud and theft charges against Willaim Gaethle with prejudice after he agreed to pay back the money he received from his insurance company. By dropping the charges without prejudice, prosecutors cannot refile them, even if more evidence were to be found.
Tillett entered a felony diversion agreement in June 2019.