9 people have pleaded guilty so far in massive fraud case

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Nine people have pleaded guilty in a massive case of fraud in which the participants smashed cars into each other and committed other staged accidents in four western states to collect more than $6 million from insurance companies.

The nine include prominent Spokane real estate developer Ron Wells, who pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to numerous charges related to a 2016 car crash.

Wells admitted to mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and illegal monetary transactions. Each offense carries between 10 and 20 years of jail time.

Well also agreed to pay $179,000 in restitution.

The case involves 22 defendants accused of deliberately staging a series of automobile, boating, stair fall, pedestrian/vehicle and other accidents in Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California from 2013 to 2018.