Texas Pilot Who Crashed Plane for Insurance Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

October 17, 2018

A 33-year-old pilot, formerly of Kemah, Texas, was sentenced in early October to more than five years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $1 million in an insurance fraud-related case.

Theodore Robert Wright III previously pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, 2017, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit arson. Among other things, Wright has admitted that he intentionally crashed a plane in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012 and recorded the event on an iPad.

Wright was sentenced on Oct. 4 to 65 months in federal prison, ordered to pay $988,544.83 in restitution and told to report to prison on Nov. 8.

According to state and federal officials, Wright and three co-conspirators operated a multi-jurisdictional fraud and arson scheme that spanned from Hawaii to the Gulf of Mexico and involved the destruction of various luxury goods, including vehicles, aircraft and vessels.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas reported that Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon and Raymond Fosdick, both of Houston, and Edward Delima, of Honolulu, Hawaii, acquired luxury goods, insured them for more than they paid for them, and subsequently destroyed the items in order to reap insurance proceeds.

The various 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, sank in deep water and was not recovered.
  • The Lamborghini Gallardo crashed into a ditch full of water, causing the vehicle to flood.
  • The Cessna 500 was completely destroyed when Fosdick set it on fire at Wright’s direction at an airport in Athens, Texas.
  • The Hunter Passage sank in a marina in Hawaii.

Fraudulent insurance claims were filed in relation to each of these incidents. 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.

In May 2017, Wright, Gordon, Fosdick, and Delima were charged with various counts related to the fraud scheme.

Wright’s co-conspirators have all pleaded guilty.

  • Delima pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to a five-year term of probation.
  • Fosdick pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson and on Jan. 24, 2018, was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison.
  • Gordon pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent and was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison today and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $440,000.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FAA Law Enforcement Assistance Program, the Texas Department of Insurance, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and L. Frank Coan, Jr. with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Wells.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas

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