A Texas pilot in early December pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and arson charges, associated with, among other things, intentionally crashing a plane in the Gulf of Mexico and destroying other expensive planes, vehicles and vessels.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston for the Eastern District of Texas, Theodore Robert Wright III, 32, formerly of Kemah, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson.
The U.S. Attorney’s office reported that information presented in court showed that Wright led a multi-jurisdictional fraud and arson scheme that spanned from Hawaii to the Gulf of Mexico, and involved the destruction of various assets, including vehicles, aircraft and vessels.
Federal prosecutors say Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, 45, of Houston, Raymond Fosdick, 41, of Houston, and Edward Delima, 41, of Honolulu, Hawaii, acquired costly assets and over-insured them. They then conspired to destroy the assets and fraudulently collect the insurance payouts.
The assets destroyed in the scheme included a 1966 Beechcraft Baron, a 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo, a 1971 Cessna 500 and a 1998 Hunter Passage.
The Beechcraft Baron made an emergency landing in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 and was not recovered. The Lamborghini Gallardo was crashed into a ditch full of water, causing the vehicle to flood. The Cessna 500 was destroyed when Fosdick set it on fire at an airport in Athens, Texas. The Hunter Passage sank in a marina in Hawaii
In addition to filing fraudulent claims for the destroyed assets, Wright and his co-defendants also filed a fraudulent $1 million personal injury lawsuit related to the crash in the Gulf of Mexico. The suit was settled for $100,000.
Delima, Fosdick and Gordon each previously pleaded guilty to various charges associated with the fraud schemes, including conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiring to commit arson and making false statements to a federal agent.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and L. Frank Coan Jr.