Investigating officers from the Alabama Department of Insurance, Fire Marshal and Fraud Divisions announced the arrests of four suspects for allegedly staging structure fires, automobile accidents, vandalism, and personal injury “accidents” in order to receive fraudulent monetary claims from insurance companies.
Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk, and local Deputy Marshal Roderick Reed say evidence indicated this “fraud operation” had been going on for up to 15 years with allegedly fraudulent insurance claims totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Arrest warrants were served on the four family members beginning in early January and culminating Jan. 20 for charges of first degree insurance fraud. Arrested were Lawanda Thomas, 52, of Mt. Vernon; her two sons, Clarence Lavell Roberts, Jr., 32, of McIntosh; Defonta Roberts 26, of Eight Mile; and Defonte Roberts’ sister-in-law, Danielle Miller, 34 of Satsuma.
Three of the four turned themselves into Mobile Metro Jail and were released on bonds. Defonta Roberts was located and served his arrest warrant while serving time in Fountain Correctional Center for unrelated burglary charges.
Trial dates for the four have not been set pending Grand Jury.
Paulk and Reed said more arrests are expected in this broad reaching investigation in Southwest Alabama and they’re asking for the public’s help. Anyone with information on any suspicious fire or insurance fraud case should contact the Alabama Arson Hotline or visit www.firemarshal.alabama.gov for more information.
Source: Alabama Department of Insurance