PIKEVILLE, Ky. - A Floyd County man, who was the organizer of several staged automobile accidents and a home fire for insurance money, was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning, announced Amul R. Thapar, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Billy Joe Johnson, 48, pleaded guilty in December of last year to conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to the arson of a residence and conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to staged automobile accidents, both done for insurance money. Johnson admitted on the witness stand yesterday that he was the one who "organized and orchestrated" the schemes.
In 2002, Douglas Branham, 37, spoke with Johnson concerning his poor financial condition. The two talked about the fact that Branham's home could be burned so that Branham could file a false insurance claim with Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company.
In September of 2002, Chad Conn, 39, Billy Joe Johnson and William Jason Johnson, 29, Billy Joe Johnson's son, went to the house of Branham and removed furniture, electronics and various other personal items and took them to the Johnsons' residences so that they would not be burned.
Later that evening, the Johnsons drove back to Branham's house to set the house on fire. Branham filed an insurance claim with Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company for the fire which destroyed his home. Branham also made claims for personal property, including furniture, electronics and personal items that had previously been removed from the house by Conn and the Johnsons.
Branham, Conn and William Johnson all pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and sentenced yesterday along with Billy Joe Johnson.
Branham was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release. William Johnson was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and three years supervised release. Conn was sentenced to 10 months in prison, five of which will be served in homedetention and three years supervised release.
Conn, Branham, William Johnson and Billy Joe Johnson were also all ordered to pay a restitution in the amount of $76, 107.42 to the insurance company.
Between January of 2001 and November of 2003, Billy Joe Johnson organized staged automobile accidents for the purpose of filing fraudulent insurance claims. Co-conspirators participated in hopes of obtaining part of the insurance proceeds, automobiles or automobile parts, or the ability to receive free medical treatment.
Four co-conspirators who participated with Billy Joe Johnson in one staged automobile accident each, pleaded guilty earlier this year. Gordon Stanley, 61; Greg Hall, 46; Johnny Lee Fogle, 39; and Robert Johnson, 35, were each sentenced to 10 months in prison, five of which will be served in home detention and three years supervised release.
Dee Tackett, 37, and Arlene Hall, 36, two more who participated in one staged automobile accident each with Billy Joe Johnson, were sentenced in January of this year to five years probation, with home detention required for six months.
Bill Little, who participated in two staged auto accidents with Billy Joe Johnson, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years supervised release. Randal Holbrook, who pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud is scheduled for sentencing May 14, 2007 in Ashland, Ky.
The co-conspirators and Billy Joe Johnson were ordered to pay a total restitution in the amount of $132, 718.11 to the insurance companies.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United Sates Postal Inspection Service. The United States was represented in the case by Assistant United States Attorney David P. Grise.