A 43-year-old woman with a lengthy record of embezzlement and forgery crimes will serve three months in the Benton County jail for falsely claiming she was hurt after a garage door fell on her car.
Michelle L. Granberry initially told her insurance company that trying to lift the door off her car aggravated a previous back injury.
When USAA refused to cover her medical bills because the injury was not related to the garage incident, Granberry changed the timeline in her story and falsified documents. Granberry wanted to be reimbursed more than $13,000 for the cost of treating her back, court documents show.
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit pursued the allegations against Granberry, who was prosecuted by the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
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Granberry was originally charged in Benton County Superior Court with one count each of first-degree attempted theft, false claims or proof, and first-degree criminal impersonation.
She pleaded guilty earlier this month to the one count of filing a false insurance claim.
Her attorney Craig Andersen of Kennewick asked for a 15-day sentence.
Judge Bruce Spanner agreed with Assistant Attorney General Matt Thomas’ recommendation of three months because of Granberry’s history.
Records show Granberry has convictions for seven counts of embezzlement, three counts of forgery and three counts of uttering a false or forged instrument, and one obtaining property by false premises. The crimes, all felonies, happened from 2001-02 in North Carolina.
Michelle Granberry has convictions for seven counts of embezzlement, three counts of forgery and three counts of uttering a false or forged instrument and for obtaining property by false premises. The crimes, all felonies, happened from 2001-02 in North Carolina.
The history did not apply to this conviction, which came with a standard sentencing range of up to one year in jail.
She must report to the Benton County jail by Jan. 2 to serve her time.
The state Insurance Commissioner’s Office said Granberry lives in Kennewick, but during a September hearing she gave the court a Texas address and was granted permission to travel across all states “in between.”
Granberry filed the claim with USAA in August 2015, saying she was backing out of her garage when the garage door came down onto her 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
She called USAA on Sept. 9, 2015, to report the injury. When a USAA representative told her the injury wouldn’t be covered because it was unrelated, Granberry said it might have happened in the garage incident, court documents said.
She followed up with the insurance company a week later and said there had been a mistake with the reported date of the incident. She moved up the date of the garage door crash by one week.
On Sept. 30, 2015, Granberry faxed a copy of her medical treatment in the Kadlec Regional Medical Center emergency room and the bill. The document included doctor’s notes about a garage door falling on Granberry’s car, but investigators noticed the notes were offset and in a different font.
That same document obtained from Kadlec as part of a search warrant did not include any reference to a garage door incident, court documents said.
Granberry, when questioned by her insurance company about the mismatched document, sent a second version in which the font and format matched up.
Granberry told investigators she had contacted her landlord on Aug. 7, 2015, and the garage door company came out to fix it that same day. Investigators contacted the landlord, and the garage door company and both said it happened on Aug. 14 — the original date Granberry reported to USAA.
She also claimed that the first mismatched medical document she sent to USAA was an error, explaining that it had been altered as a way to tell her mother what happened, documents said.
A news release from Kreidler said insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums.
Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner's website.