Crime

Kennewick man on state’s ‘most wanted’ insurance fraud list pleads guilty

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A Kennewick man is off the Washington state insurance commissioner’s most wanted list after pleading guilty in an insurance fraud case.

Paul Albarella, 40, admitted buying insurance for his 1996 Ford truck a day after he wrecked the pickup.

He was sentenced to 20 days on a work crew and $500 in court fees.

He crashed his pickup into a storage unit building on April 18, 2016, at Keylock Storage on West Irving Street in Pasco, video from the storage company showed.

Although he bought Geico insurance the next day, he waited until the following month to make a claim on his insurance policy for $8,038. He said he had been in a crash May 14.

paul_albarella.jpg
Paul Albarella

Geico denied the claim and referred to the case to investigators at the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Albarella pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court in November 2018 to attempted first-degree theft. When he failed to show up for his next court hearing in February, a bench warrant for his arrest was issued with bail set at $10,000.

In April he was back in court to plead guilty and was sentenced May 14.

Mike Kreidler, the Washington state insurance commissioner, says insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year.

He maintains a “most wanted list” of suspects in insurance fraud who fail to appear in court on criminal insurance fraud and theft charges.

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