8 people staged wreck to try to collect insurance, indictment says

PIKEVILLE — Eight people have been indicted in federal court on charges of mail fraud in an alleged scheme to fake a Floyd County traffic crash and defraud their insurance companies. They rented a U-Haul in June 2006, filled it with furniture and drove it twice into a Crown Victoria with several passengers in it, the indictment says.

In a lawsuit filed after the crash, one of the drivers testified from prison, where he was serving a 15-month sentence for a similar scheme involving three years' worth of staged wrecks. Bill Junior "Bainey" Little was one of several drivers recruited to stage crashes in that scheme; he drove an Oldsmobile into the back of a Blazer in 2003. He and eight others were indicted in that ring about a month after the U-Haul wreck.

Little, Luther Johnson Jr. and James Clarence Hall arranged the 2006 crash, according to the indictment filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

With money provided by Hall, Robin D. Shumaker rented a U-Haul, and Burnett Little filled it with furniture and household goods to give the collision "an appearance of legitimacy," the indictment says.

On June 25, 2006, Shumaker, with passenger Green Berry "G.B." Newman, drove the U-Haul into a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria driven by Little, with Troy L. Fields and Dannie Lee Bentley as passengers.

Then Bentley drove the U-Haul into the Crown Victoria a second time, causing more damage, the indictment says.

Later that summer, Fields and Bentley sued Shumaker and U-Haul, apparently to get money to split among the ring. U-Haul has requested that its part in the lawsuit be dismissed, according to the last filing in Floyd Circuit Court.

Shumaker testified in a deposition contained in Floyd court files that her landlord, Newman, was "tired" of her and wanted her out of her Hi Hat apartment.

She planned to move to Mount Sterling because a friend, James Tuttle, lived there, she said in court records. So she rented a U-Haul at a gas station, and Newman helped her load her belongings into the truck and helped her start driving down Ky. 114 toward the Mountain Parkway.

Little testified from prison that he, Johnson and Hall were on the Mountain Parkway returning from the home of his cousin, James Tuttle. Little said he didn't know Shumaker or Newman and was visiting Tuttle to see about bartering for or buying a truck.

Shumaker told state police who responded to the crash that she had dropped her cigarette in her lap, and while she was trying to retrieve it, drifted over the center line and hit the Crown Victoria, which was "almost stopped" on the right shoulder to avoid getting hit, she told police.

Shumaker said in her deposition that she wasn't hurt, but her landlord was taken to the hospital, and having no one to help her drive to Mount Sterling, she turned around and drove back to the Hi Hat apartment.

All eight people filed claims or sent letters about a lawsuit over the crash to various insurance companies, including Republic Western Insurance in Omaha, Neb., Dairyland Insurance in Richmond, Va., and Sentry Insurance in Richmond, Va., the federal indictment says. In the end, they hoped to split any money awarded, the indictment says.

The eight were summoned for arraignment Oct. 14 in federal court in Pikeville.