Kennewick man goes to jail for insurance fraud conspiracy


A Kennewick man was sentenced to 3 and a half years in federal prison for insurance fraud conspiracy for a staged car accident, then plotting to obstruct an FBI investigation.

Ali Abed Yaser falsely accused a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and another person of soliciting a bribe in an effort to stop the investigation into the insurance fraud scheme.

US Judge Mary K. Dimke also ordered Yaser, 52, on Thursday to pay approximately $127,000 in restitution and a judgment of nearly $20,000. He faces three years of probation after his release from prison.

She said Yaser engaged in a “concerted and dedicated effort to undermine the credibility” of the FBI.

Her actions “have undermined the reputation of this agency and the ability of the community to have confidence in the justice system as a whole,” she said.

Yaser’s crimes were “serious, complex, and highly orchestrated,” according to U.S. District Court documents. “Insurance fraud is a serious crime that affects society in the form of a higher insurance premium.”

He pleaded guilty, as one of 23 defendants in the case of fraud, for conspiracy to commit mail and telegraph fraud; conspiracy to commit health care fraud; conspiracy to obstruct official process; making false statements within the jurisdiction of the executive; and two counts of mail fraud.

Lawyers in the United States District Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington had asked for a sentence of four years and three months, and Yaser had asked for a sentence of two years and 11 months.

Yaser's main car crash
A Kennewick man is convicted of staging a car crash between a 2014 Lexus and a 2009 Hyundai Sonata to collect insurance. Courtesy of the United States Federal Court for the Eastern District

Federal investigators said that in May 2019, Yaser no longer wanted to make monthly payments on his 2014 Lexus IS, so he staged a car accident.

His wife, adult son and two minor daughters and at least two other co-defendants, Ameer R. Mohammed and Seiffedine Al-Kinani, were also involved, according to court documents.

Mohammed intentionally crashed a 2009 Hyundai Sonata into the Lexus on a country road near the Tri-Cities, after Yaser made sure no family members were still in the Lexus, according to court documents.

Fraudulent insurance claims

Yaser then told his family members to seek treatment for non-existent injuries and hired a law firm to file fraudulent claims on behalf of his son and daughters.

He told insurance companies that his wife, son and daughters suffered neck, shoulder and left leg injuries that required medical attention and physical therapy.

He also claimed in an interview with an insurance company that he suffered the worst of the impact.

He said he had to cancel several business orders at the roofing company he owns due to his injuries and had to use a cane to walk.

Two insurance companies have paid nearly $127,000 related to the staged accident.

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A Kennewick man is convicted of staging a car crash between a 2014 Lexus and a 2009 Hyundai Sonata to collect insurance. Courtesy of the United States Court for the Eastern District of Washington

Yaser received approximately $34,500, which included bodily injury settlements and collision coverage. His two daughters each received $5,000.

His Lexus was recovered, and he bought it back and resold it for $5,000.

Yaser believed he was in the clear until a year after the staged crash, when the FBI searched his home as well as other residences in Washington state and California, according to court documents.

“When confronted with the discovery of his fraudulent scheme, Mr. Yaser doubled down,” said Richard Collodi, special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Seattle.

Falsely Accused FBI Agent

He suspected that one of the people who helped him with the car accident insurance fraud was working as an FBI informant, so he falsely accused that person and an FBI agent of asking him for $20,000 to do disappear the case.

He recruited another person, who was actually working with the FBI as a confidential informant, to secretly tape the meetings with the alleged informant so that Yaser could later tamper with the recordings.

He also enlisted the person he didn’t know was working as a confidential informant to lure the suspected informant into a garage and then turn off the security system so Yaser could “finish him off,” according to a court document.

Yaser is an Iraqi refugee who came to the United States to settle in Kennewick around 13 years ago and became a naturalized American citizen in 2016.

He has no prior criminal convictions, but committed a felony fourth-degree domestic violence offense which was dismissed after completing a two-year extension.

“Mr. Yaser was a respected member of the Kennewick Iraqi community,” his attorney, Craig Webster, said in a court document. “He often opened his home to host religious and community gatherings.”

Several members of the Iraqi community sent the judge letters of support for Yaser.

Webster also said Yaser worried about the well-being of his family during the 14 months he was held in the Benton County Jail.

“The position he put them in because of his bad decisions weighs heavily on him,” Webster said.

But federal attorneys wrote in a court document that Yaser’s “criminal conduct demonstrates his disrespect for the law, police, medical personnel and insurance.”

“It seems he thinks that when caught, it’s okay to lie to law enforcement, meet other people to line up stories, and even tamper with evidence and potential witnesses,” they said. they stated.

U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said after the hearing that “efforts to impede federal criminal prosecutions will not be tolerated.”

She also said the staged crashes prevent police from responding to legitimate distress calls.

The case was prosecuted by George JC Jacobs, III, Assistant U.S. Attorney.

This story was originally published January 27, 2023 11:20 a.m.

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Senior Writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She was a journalist for over 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.



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