For Immediate Release
Texas Pilot Sentenced for Wire Fraud and Arson Conspiracies
TYLER, Texas – A 33-year-old pilot, formerly of Kemah, Texas, has been sentenced to federal prison for violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.
Theodore Robert Wright, III, pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, 2017, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit arson and was sentenced to 65 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark. Wright was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $988,544.83.
According to information presented in court, Wright led a multi-jurisdictional fraud and arson scheme that spanned from Hawaii to the Gulf of Mexico and involved the destruction of various luxury goods, including vehicles, aircraft, and vessels. Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, 46, and Raymond Fosdick, 42, both of Houston, and Edward Delima, 42, of Honolulu, Hawaii, acquired luxury goods and obtained insurance coverage for those goods in amounts exceeding their purchase prices. Wright and his co-conspirators then devised and carried out schemes to destroy those goods and defraud insurance companies.
The various assets destroyed in the scheme included a 1966 Beechcraft Baron, a 2008 Lamborghini Gallardo, a 1971 Cessna 500, and a 1998 Hunter Passage. The Beechcraft Baron made an emergency landing in the Gulf of Mexico, sank in deep water, and was not recovered. The Lamborghini Gallardo crashed into a ditch full of water, causing the vehicle to flood. The Cessna 500 was completely destroyed when Fosdick set it on fire at Wright’s direction at an airport in Athens, Texas. The Hunter Passage sank in a marina in Hawaii. Fraudulent insurance claims were filed in relation to each of these incidents. Wright and his co-defendants also filed a fraudulent $1 million personal injury lawsuit related to the crash in the Gulf of Mexico. The suit was settled for $100,000.
On May 17, 2017, Wright, Gordon, Fosdick, and Delima were charged with various offenses related to their conduct in the scheme in the Eastern District of Texas. Wright’s co-conspirators have all pleaded guilty. Delima pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to a five-year term of probation. Fosdick pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson and on Jan. 24, 2018, was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison. Gordon pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent and was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison today and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $440,000.
“This kind of fraud causes everyone to pay higher insurance rates,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “Just having those nice things destroyed is a shame. And for someone to cheat and make money off of it is particularly troubling.”
"Fraud victimizes businesses and costs Americans billions of dollars every year,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II. “The deception carried out by Mr. Wright is particularly alarming due to the callous use of arson and staged emergencies which have the potential to place the public and first responders in danger.”
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FAA Law Enforcement Assistance Program, the Texas Department of Insurance, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and L. Frank Coan, Jr. with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Wells.