AG Wilson announces that leader of staged-accidents ring sentenced to prison

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – April 17, 2019 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announces that Tyburious Heyward, 21, of Sumter, South Carolina, entered a plea of guilty on April 12, 2019 on insurance fraud charges. Heyward pleaded guilty to three counts of Presenting a False Claim for Payment Greater than $10,000, which are 10 year felonies. Heyward was considered the ringleader of a Sumter County staged accident and fraudulent medical bills ring.

The Honorable Kristi Curtis accepted the plea and sentenced Heyward to five years in prison. Heyward was already sentenced to 18 months in prison for a July Failure to Stop for a Blue Light conviction. Heyward’s lawyer on the insurance fraud case, Grant Smaldone, requested Judge Curtis give the Defendant credit for the time he had already served on the blue light charge. The judge gave Heyward credit for 270 days of time served.

“We’ve already convicted the rest of this ring and we’re glad to get its leader sentenced to prison,” said Attorney General Wilson. “This group staged accidents that could have put others in danger, and this kind of fraud causes insurance rates to go up for all of us,” Attorney General Wilson said.

The incidents occurred from December of 2016 to February of 2017, and all of them had similar sets of facts. In each incident, the group caused a car accident involving members of the group in each vehicle. After the accidents, Heyward instructed the groups to either go get treatment from Carolinas Hospital in Florence or give him their personal information so he could impersonate them at Carolinas. Heyward also told his co-defendants to put his phone number and his grandmother’s address on all paperwork. After running up large medical bills, the participants would retrieve their medical records and make claims to GEICO and State Farm. Heyward also drove his co-conspirators to Georgia to pick up the settlement checks.

Eventually, the insurance companies began to notice the scheme based on the repeated contact information, locations of the accidents, and Sumter residents being seen at Carolinas Hospital in Florence. The companies requested the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) assist in the investigation. The SLED agent reviewed the body camera footage from the accidents and saw Heyward impersonating other individuals. The agent went to the hospital and found that medical bills had been altered. Also, the agent interviewed others involved in the accidents, and many of them confessed to the staging of these wrecks and altering of the bills.

The case was investigated by SLED Special Agent Joe Neff and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General LaRone Washington.

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