LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County grand jury indicted a 42-year-old Diboll man for felony insurance fraud in connection to allegations that he crashed his 2003 Chevrolet Corvette into a Mercury Sable twice before he filed bogus accident report and cashed in a $26,000 insurance claim.
Thomas Ray Johns Jr. was booked into the Angelina County Jail on June 20, 2013. He was released later that day after he posted a $10,000 bail.
According to the arrest affidavit, Johns and co-conspirator, Paul Randall Rhoden drove their vehicles out on FM 1818 about 10 miles south of Huntington on July 5, 2009. Johns owned the burgundy Corvette, and Rhoden owned the gray Sable.
On April 10, an FBI agent interviewed Rhoden. According to the affidavit, Rhoden said he pulled his Sable onto the shoulder of FM 1818, and when Johns arrived, he told Rhoden that he couldn't crash the two cars together.
At that point, Rhoden climbed into the Corvette and intentionally crashed it into the Sable twice. Rhoden then called 911 to call in the so-called accident. Rhoden allegedly admitted lying to the responding Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and said "their sole intent was to file a fraudulent insurance claim."
Then, on April 22, the FBI agent interviewed Johns about the accident he and Rhoden allegedly staged. Johns allegedly told the FBI agent that the crash was a staged event and gave an account of the event that matched what Rhoden had given 12 days earlier.
"The defendant stated that he knew they were crashing the vehicles to file a fraudulent insurance claim, and that he received the check from Philadelphia Indemnity and deposited it in his account," the affidavit stated.
The affidavit stated that Johns received an insurance claim check in the amount of $26,414. In turn, Rhoden received a check for $3,911.
During the interview with Johns, the FBI agent brought three other highly suspicious insurance claims he had filed on vehicles he owned and told him there was a high possibility that additional insurance fraud charges would be filed against him in the future.
"The defendant put his head in his hands, and when asked if he wished to tell us about those vehicles, he said he does, but was afraid of going to prison," the affidavit stated.
Johns then allegedly told authorities that he would get back in touch with them about the other possible charges after he obtained the services of an attorney. As of June 10, he still had gotten back in touch with authorities, according to the affidavit.
Rhoden is currently serving a 77-month federal prison sentence. He was convicted on Jan. 16, 2013 for felony possession of a firearm.
Insurance agent Julie Davis is not familiar with this case but says criminal cases like this one are becoming more common.
"The incidents of people trying to perpetrate fraud have gone up a little bit, but because insurance companies have gotten so aggressive about insurance claims, we're doing everything we can to litigate the loss," said Davis.
Davis said that when fraudulent claims like this happen, everyone's rates go up, due to the premiums on a policy.
The grand jury also indicted an Angelina County duo that allegedly stole bronze flower holders from cemeteries in the Huntington area. Clyde Earl Raines, 33, of Lufkin, and Angela Nicole Boone, 23, of Huntington were charged with organizing in criminal activity, which is a state-jail felony.
The two suspects were arrested after a traffic stop by a Huntington Police officer back in April. When the officer did an inventory of the contents of the vehicle, he allegedly found several bronze cemetery flower holders that appeared to have been taken from grave sites.
The holders were dirty, and some of them still had water in them.
Other grand jury indictments of note include:
Pantaleon Ramirez Villanueva, of Lufkin, 56, was indicted on a state-jail felony charge of driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15 in the car. A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper arrested Villanueva in October 2013 after a traffic stop allegedly revealed that he had been driving drunk with three children, ages 3, 8, and 13, in the car with him.
Randall Cyrus Dobbs, 32, of Diboll, was indicted on two outstanding burglary of a vehicle charges and a credit card abuse charge. Dobbs is accused of stealing credit cards and a handgun from two cars in Lufkin back in April. The next day, Dobbs allegedly used the stolen credit cards to make purchases that totaled more than $3,000.
Regina Havard, 32, of Lufkin, was indicted on a possession of dangerous drugs charge. In August 2013, Havard was involved on a wreck in the 100 block of Kerr. She was arrested at the scene because she was at fault and didn't have car insurance. Later, methamphetamine and other prescription drugs were found in her purse when she was being booked into the jail.