Fayette deputies uncover arson for profit insurance scam; 5 arrested in statewide fraud ring

Five women were arrested Tuesday for participating in a statewide insurance fraud scheme that involved torching a residential unit at the Shiloh Mobile Home Park, sheriff’s officials said.

The suspects, charged with violating the state’s “racketeer influenced and corrupt organization” act, were identified by sheriff’s investigators as:

• Deanna Leigh Webster, 22, of Columbus;

• Shantavia Nichole Stewart, 22, of Fort Valley;

• Ashley Simmons, 23, of Columbus;

• Tamia Shinay Nicholas, 23, of Columbus; and

• Diana Lukisha Moore, 36, of Columbus.

A warrant has also been issued for Shaemeka Eileen Miller, 23, of Columbus in connection with the investigation, and more arrests may be forthcoming, according to the sheriff’s office.

Fayette County fire officials first notified the sheriff’s office of the “suspicious nature” of the August 2010 fire at Shiloh Mobile Home Park, officials said. Investigators then discovered similar fires in Columbus, Kennesaw, Hampton and Locust Grove.

It was determined that in each incident, there was a similarity in the types of homes, manner of purchase, and the nature of the fire and insurance policies obtained for each location, sheriff’s investigators said.

The arrests were made Tuesday by a group including Fayette and Muscogee County sheriff’s deputies, the Fort Valley Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Taskforce, and the fire departments from Henry County and Columbus, officials said.

The investigation was also aided by the Fayette County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Georgia Fire Marshall’s Office and the Columbus Police Department, officials said.

iRonin's picture
Joined: 05/10/2010

RICO is a tough nut to crack. It's one of the most convoluted and heavily litigated criminal laws in the State of Georgia. Expect this one to cost the taxpayers a decent chunk of change being brought under RICO, as opposed to the far simpler charge of First Degree Arson. That's not to say it was done improperly, but it's going to be a beast of a case that may not actually secure convictions. ::shrug::

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
RICO could work here

if they get one of the Rocket-scientist defendants to testify against the others and the conspiracy.

She (I'm betting on Sheameka here) could get 20 years which is better than the life sentence the others could get. Of course she will get killed in prison, but she may not know that right now.

iRonin's picture
Joined: 05/10/2010

Although, worth noting, while co-conspirators are often separated at the Fayette County Jail, no such option is practically available for female co-conspirators. A unified front may be more likely from this bunch than traditional conspirators here.

BHH's picture
Joined: 02/11/2011
Insurance companies rule the world

When it comes to insurance fraud the tough get going.

grizz's picture
Joined: 01/02/2011
Happy ending

Great job by law enforcement by identifying the suspicious nature of the fires and putting the puzzle together.

Let us all hope that these criminals are put away in prison for a very long time.

roundabout's picture
Joined: 01/01/2011
Suspicious nature

I am surprised that they ever got around to solving it since about 32 agencies apparently were seriously involved!

dwcasey1216's picture
Joined: 03/07/2011
Suspicious nature

The more the better. That is what the majority of them are paid for.
The main thing is they have been caught.

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