Fraud of the Month: Home arsonists try to murder witness

Smoking_gunTyesha Towanda Roberts wanted to help her uncle torch a crony’s home for an insurance payday. Roberts was prepared to help make the insurance plot a grisly murder scene.

The Baltimore woman agreed to provide a false alibi, and help rub out an inconvenient witness.

Bad moves. The Baltimore-area woman will have 20 years to rethink how she unknowingly spilled the murderous insurance plot to a federal informant in a clever setup.

The case shines a light on something that should challenge many people’s belief that insurance fraud is a harmless white-collar prank.

Violence …

Against witnesses … investigators … judges … and other hardworking folks just trying to do fair justice.

Wanted witness shot

Here’s how adroit federal sleuthing thwarted Roberts ….

Her uncle Greg Ramsey agreed to torch a cohort’s home and two vehicles for insurance payouts, the feds say. The home fire seriously damaged the building — and tenants were inside. The fire then spread to neighboring homes. The two vehicles were wrecked, and those fires spread to a nearby church.

As the feds frame what happened next: The arson plot was broken up. The cornered plotters grew desperate. Ramsay would have a prosecution witness shot, he told the home and car owner (known only as “J.R.”).

He also offered to have Roberts lie in court that J.R. was visiting her when the fires broke out.

The trio met to iron out the details. Roberts and Ramsey were doomed.

“J.R.” had secretly pleaded guilty and was stringing them along. Every step now was a trap.

Roberts said she knew people who could finish off the witness. So she was enlisted to procure the hitman. Roberts met with someone she thought was a middleman. The guy was an informant working for the feds. He introduced Roberts to the presumed hitman. He was a federal undercover officer.

The clueless Roberts hooked up the equally clueless Ramsey with the seeming hitman. Ramsay paid the informant $2,000 toward the $10,000 murder fee, and a loaded .357 revolver to finish the job.

Roberts was trapped, and the walls quickly closed in. She pleaded guilty and will receive up to 20 years in federal prison when sentenced in August 2016. “J.R” pleaded guilty to insurance-fraud and arson. Ramsay faces a slew of charges that could lock him away for decades if he’s convicted.

Federal detective work kept the witness alive. Several fraud investigators weren’t so lucky in other insurance schemes.

An unhinged insurance agent doing her duty as well. She was an auditor with the North Carolina insurance department. A troubled agent clubbed her to death with a chair while she was in his office looking into possible theft of client premiums.

Nightclub insurer mogul Jeffrey Cohen plotted to rub out the judge overseeing the insurer’s liquidation. Like fellow Baltimore-area plotter Roberts, Cohen was thwarted just in time.

Cohen deceived regulators into thinking his fizzling insurance empire was financially solid.

A former nightclub bouncer, Cohen drew up a hit list of Maryland and Delaware officials involved with his case. And driving directions to the home of the judge overseeing the insurer’s liquidation.

Seven assault weapons were seized at Cohen’s home. “Society needs to look at the fact that killing isn’t wrong in certain circumstances, and killing culls the weak,” he said in the recording. Cohen was handed 37 years in federal prison.

So when you think of insurance fraud as a soft and forgettable crime … just visit Sallie Rohrbach’s grave. She’s buried in Raleigh Memorial Park in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.