Defendant Took Payments for Providing Personal Identifying Information About Traffic Crash Victims
WASHINGTON – A former employee of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was sentenced today to 78 days in jail, to be spent on weekends, for accepting more than $40,000 in bribes in exchange for providing personal identifying information of traffic crash victims and for carrying out a separate scheme involving insurance fraud.
Kendra Coles, 46, of Beltsville, Md., pleaded guilty in March 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count each of bribery of a public official and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. She was sentenced by the Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan. The judge also placed her on three years of probation. She is also required to pay more than $6,000 in restitution to an insurance carrier as well as a $40,0001 forfeiture money judgment.
The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.
According to the government’s evidence, Coles began work for the Metropolitan Police Department in 2006 as a customer service representative. In late 2012, she became a staff assistant and was assigned to the Patrol Services and School Safety Bureau. Coles was in that position when, in approximately 2015, she conspired with two individuals who were “runners.” These “runners” were in the business of connecting lawyers and accident victims.
These “runners” were able to identify potential clients by obtaining police reports of recent traffic accidents, referred to as Traffic Crash Reports. Before 2015, these reports were publicly available and could be obtained from a clerical office at MPD. In January 2015, however, MPD issued a general order restricting the distribution of Traffic Crash Reports to persons involved in a crash and certain family members and representatives. The order aimed to protect crash victim confidentiality and limit solicitations by “runners.”
To circumvent the general order, the “runners” began paying Coles cash in exchange for her providing Traffic Crash Reports, to which she had access by virtue of her employment at MPD. Specifically, one “runner” paid Coles approximately $400 to $500 per week and another “runner” paid her approximately $350 per week. Over the two years she engaged in the scheme, Coles received more than $40,000 from at least two “runners.”
In exchange, Coles accessed the reports and created handwritten ledgers. These ledgers contained the reports’ essential information, including crash victims’ identity and contact information. Coles would also provide information regarding the nature of the crash, including whether it included an injury, property damage, or was a hit and run. Coles would then take a picture of the ledger and send them to “runners” via email or text.
An audit conducted by MPD revealed that between June 1, 2017 and October 6, 2017, alone, Coles had accessed Traffic Crash Reports 3,367 times.
The investigation is continuing. One of the "runners," Marvin Parker, 62, of Silver Spring, Md., pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and was sentenced in January 2020 to 18 months in prison.
In a separate scheme, Coles committed insurance fraud. In late June 2017, her car required between $1,000 and $2,400 for parts and an additional $700 for labor. In addition, Coles owed $1,505 to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles for unpaid parking tickets and fees. Rather than incur these costs, Coles conspired with a family friend to have the car “disappear” so she could file an insurance claim. In furtherance of her scheme, on July 31, 2017, Coles abandoned her car and her co-conspirator set it on fire. After filing a false theft report, Coles collected more than $1,000 from her insurance carrier.
In announcing the sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Chief Contee commended the work of those who assisted the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and MPD’s Internal Affairs Division. They also acknowledged the work of those who handled the case at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Angeline Thekkumthala, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Rothstein, Katherine Rakoczy, and Veronica Sanchez, who investigated and prosecuted this matter.