Convicted of Insurance Fraud

More Prosecution is Needed to Deter Insurance Fraud

Post 4826

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Thomas Orville McLaughlin II was convicted of committing a fraudulent insurance act, making a false information, and interfering with law enforcement. He appealed claiming several of the State’s exhibits were improperly admitted and that a defense witness was improperly excluded.

In State of Kansas v. Thomas Orville McLaughlin II, No. 124,221, Court of Appeals of Kansas (June 21, 2024) McLaughlin sought relief from his conviction for insurance fraud.


On August 2, 2016, Thomas McLaughlin reported a burglary. He contacted law enforcement and later spoke to Officer Travis Debarge about the burglary. McLaughlin advised the officer that his storage container had been robbed and three ATVs were missing. The following day, McLaughlin also spoke to Detective Mark Montague about the burglary at his residence. During their conversation, McLaughlin presented the detective with a list of stolen items, including tools, TVs, guns, and jewelry.

At trial, the State presented photographs that showed McLaughlin moving a TV and other items out of his house the night before the alleged burglary.

In making his insurance claim, McLaughlin was required to provide documentation of the ATVs’ purchase. At trial, Melissa Webber from Progressive testified about McLaughlin’s inconsistent statements, noting how, at first, McLaughlin said that he did not have one of the ATV titles. He had claimed that the titles and bills of sale for the ATVS were not available because they were kept in a safe that was later reported stolen. Yet in the same interview, McLaughlin told Webber that the title was destroyed in a house fire a year prior. Webber had recorded her conversations with McLaughlin. The recording was played at the trial.

At trial, McLaughlin’s ex-wife Skye Gaskell, testified about McLaughlin’s and her actions toward defrauding the insurance company. Her trial testimony also included admitting that she had lied to the insurance investigators both in their initial investigation and during her sworn statements taken in her deposition.  The jury also heard evidence that Gaskell still possessed some of the reportedly stolen tools from the alleged burglary.

Two of the State’s witnesses-Hundley and Montague-both testified that it was McLaughlin who submitted the false documents. And it was McLaughlin who purchased the insurance for the ATVs. For each of the three ATVs, the State showed how the ATVs were not owned by McLaughlin during the period that he had claimed and presented evidence of McLauglin’s actions towards his claimed ownership.

The jury convicted McLaughlin of committing a fraudulent insurance act, making false information and interference with law enforcement. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for 24 months of probation.


Considering the light sentence for a serious, planned, premeditated insurance fraud, McLaughlin had the unmitigated gall to appeal the conviction ignoring the detailed evidence of his fraud and the testimony of his co-conspirator-wife who only married him for his money. More prosecutions of insurance fraud perpetrators are needed and when convicted the sentence needs to be severe to deter others from attempting insurance fraud who might be more competent at fraud than McLaughlin.

(c) 2024 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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About Barry Zalma

An insurance coverage and claims handling author, consultant and expert witness with more than 48 years of practical and court room experience.
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