Spokane developer Ron Wells will serve no prison time for role in insurance fraud scheme

SPOKANE, Wash. — Prominent Spokane developer Ron Wells will not spend time in prison for his role in a massive insurance fraud ring.

Judge Tom Rice delivered the sentence on Wednesday. Wells will serve one year of home detention, and has been fined $60,000. He has also been ordered to pay $179,876.56 in restitution, which he has already paid to the court.

“I have no one to blame but myself,” Wells said during the sentencing.

Federal prosecutors wanted prison time for Wells, but Judge Rice said Wells’ declining health would make it difficult for the Bureau of Prisons to handle him. Rice did say he was disgusted with Wells’ behavior before handing down his sentence.

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“You enjoyed the good life as a criminal with a bunch of criminals,” Judge Tom Rice remarked.

Wells is the 17th person to be sentenced in the scheme, which involved staging car accidents and injuries. In some cases, the conspirators would even carry a bottle of urine with them and pour it on themselves before police arrived, to make it appear they had lost control of their body in the crashes.

Wells was only involved in one of the crashes. He was in a tailing car as one of the conspirators drove his truck in Post Falls. That driver slammed into another truck that was carrying a boat; that truck was driven by another one of the people in the fraud ring. After the crash, Wells got out of the car he was in and got into his truck, telling first responders and his insurance company that he was driving.

The crash yielded more than $300,000 in payouts.

Wells told the court he got involved in order to pay back a debt to alleged ringleader William Mize. According to court records, Wells was in debt from a messy divorce and needed the money. He later said Mize threatened him and that’s why he got involved in the scheme.

In court Wednesday, federal prosecutors said if Wells really felt threatened, he should have gone to police.

Before receiving his sentence, Wells told the judge, “I have no one to blame but myself.” He also apologized to anyone he’s hurt or let down through his actions.

In a statement emailed out later in the day, Wells said, “I was prepared to accept whatever sentence I received today without reservation. I continue to accept full responsibility for my conduct and have fully cooperated with the government since the indictment. I broke the law and violated the trust of many. I am truly and deeply sorry. I hope to one day be able to regain that trust and return to making positive contributions to the community.”

Wells’ attorney Kevin Curtis pointed to Wells’ cooperation in the investigation as a reason for a more lenient sentence of home confinement. He compared Wells to late basketball player Kobe Bryant, saying unlike Bryant, Wells won’t have enough time in his life to atone for his bad actions and rebuild his reputation.

Curtis also pointed to the work Wells has done in the community, both in real estate development and also on charitable boards.

“His public status should not be used as a shield by us,” said Curtis. “But, it also should not be used as a sword by the government.”

For decades, Wells has been a prominent developer in Spokane and North Idaho, most notably for preserving old buildings like the Ridpath Hotel.

Curtis said Wells has lost personal and professional relationships because of his actions.

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