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Port Arthur woman staged automobile collisions, submitted insurance claims

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A Port Arthur woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges after she was accused of staging automobile accidents so she should could get compensation from insurance companies.

According to a news release from U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Shawnta Rene Bell, 32, of Port Arthur, entered a guilty plea Thursday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  She entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith F. Giblin.

According to information presented in court, from November 2006 to August 2013, Jones was involved in a conspiracy with others to defraud insurance providers and other businesses by staging automobile collisions and then submitting claims for property damage and personal injury by U.S. mail and other carriers.

On Mar. 4, 2012, Jones and others staged an accident in Port Arthur.  She then submitted fraudulent insurance claims to Farmers Insurance and Old American Mutual Insurance Company. As a result, she got less than $5,000 for her part in the conspiracy.

On June 4, 2014, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Jones and seven others with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 17 counts of mail fraud.

Jones faces up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Port Arthur Police Department, National Insurance Crime Bureau and Farmers Insurance Investigations. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Cockrell.

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