Home Houston Press Releases 2012 Last of Those Convicted in Insurance Company Scam Sentenced to Federal Prison

Last of Those Convicted in Insurance Company Scam Sentenced to Federal Prison

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 05, 2012
  • Southern District of Texas (713) 567-9000

HOUSTON—Shane Ladell Rhodes, 37, of Tomball, Texas, has been sentenced to 15 months for conspiracy to commit wire fraud from July 2007 to July 2009, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Rhodes pleaded guilty on Sept. 23, 2011, to participating in a wire fraud involving more than $1 million in potential loss to Columbia Lloyd’s, a small local insurance company. U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon imposed a guideline sentence of 15 months and ordered Rhodes, upon release from federal prison, to serve three years on supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $91,412 in restitution as part of his sentence.

Rhodes was charged in a superseding one-count indictment, returned June 29, 2011, which alleged he assisted Carla Jean Johnson, controller of Houston insurance company Columbia Lloyd’s, from 2005 to 2009. From July 11, 2007, through July 11, 2009, Johnson began sending money from the company’s account to her friends, family and at least one co-worker. The recipients would then return a portion of the money to Johnson. The fraud was discovered on July 11, 2009, when co-defendant Donnie Smith and Johnson tried to cash a Columbia Lloyd’s check for $180,000 made out to Smith at a local Wachovia Branch. Johnson was fired from her position two days later when company officials confirmed to the bank that the check was fraudulently issued. Upon a close examination of their accounts, Columbia Lloyd’s and the FBI discovered additional fraudulent withdrawals by Johnson issued to the co-conspirators.

All remaining defendants in this case have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to prison. Johnson was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison on Sept. 9, 2011. For assisting Johnson and others, Royce Smith was sentenced to 60 months on Aug. 26, 2011, while Donnie Smith was sentenced to 41 months on Sept. 2, 2011. Nettie Smither and Kelvin Robinson were both sentenced to 10 months in prison in December 2011. All defendants were ordered to pay restitution totaling nearly $1 million.

Rhodes has been on bond since his arrest July 8, 2011. He was allowed to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The conviction is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Minnis.

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