When insurance firms launched social media initiatives, the results were rewarding.
Oct. 08--A Tacoma man who tried to scam his insurance company out of $20,000 for a house cat he claimed died in a car wreck pleaded guilty Monday to attempted first-degree theft.
Superior Court Judge Linda Lee sentenced Yevgeniy Samsonov, 29, to 15 days in jail and 30 days of electronic home monitoring. Lee also ordered him to pay nearly $2,000 in restitution, court costs and fines.
Samsonov admitted he submitted a false claim to the PEMCO insurance company last October in which he said his beloved cat, Tom, died in a car wreck.
"He stated he wanted to be compensated $20,000 for his cat as he was like a son to him," court records show.
Samsonov include two photos of a cat -- white with blue eyes -- with his claim forms.
"Subsequent investigation proved the photographs were actually downloaded from the Internet," state investigators wrote in court records.
The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner said Monday the photographs, which appear on a number of websites including Wikipedia, were of two separate cats, neither of which belonged to Samsonov.
Assistant state attorney general Melanie Tratnik told Lee the state agreed to drop two other insurance fraud investigations against Samsonov in exchange for his plea in the cat case. In one of those cases, he filed a claim for $25,000 for a parakeet that allegedly died in another car wreck, Tratnik said.
Tratnik sought a sentence of 45 days in jail for Samsonov, pointing out he'd been arrested before, including in King County for attempting to elude a police officer.
"This is not Mr. Samsonov's first brush with the law," she said.
The defendant's attorney, Nathaniel Hall Wylie, asked Lee to sentence his client to 60 days electronic-home monitoring instead of jail.
Wylie said Samsonov is the stay-at-home father of two young children and that jail time would be a tremendous burden on his family.
"He has taken accountability for these actions," Wylie said.
Samsonov, speaking through an interpreter, asked Lee to "please be merciful."
Lee rejected the defense's request for no jail time, saying Samsonov should have thought about the potential impacts on his family before he committed his crime.
She did allow him to serve his 30 days on electronic home monitoring first. Samsonov's required to report to the Pierce County Jail in early November to serve his jail sentence.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644
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