Radio talk-show host faces insurance-fraud charges
Seattle Times staff reporter
Radio talk-show host Mike Webb has been charged with submitting fraudulent documents to get money from his insurance company after a June traffic accident.
Webb, who has a left-leaning evening radio program on KIRO-AM (710), allegedly produced a forged document indicating he bought a car-insurance policy from Geico before the June 28 accident, police say. The insurance company says Webb bought the policy online one day after the accident, according to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court.
Webb, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charge of filing a fraudulent claim, denied he had forged the document.
He said he believes the charge is a mistake that may have originated from a clerical or electronic error on the insurance company's part.
He also said that he and his lawyer, Bradley Marshall, are considering the possibility that somebody who "hates" his talk show may have hacked into his computer records. "We are looking into hacking. Some people will do anything to damage you," said Webb, 50.
In addition, Webb said, he's suspicious of the timing of the charge because he's involved in a dispute with Seattle police.
Webb claims he was assaulted by an officer while he and the officer both were waiting in line at a Seattle fast-food restaurant in 2004. He said police made a settlement offer to him the day before the insurance-fraud charge was filed. Seattle police spokesman Rich Pruitt declined to comment because the case hasn't been resolved.
KIRO Radio also declined to comment on the charges. A spokesman said Webb is on vacation and is scheduled to return to the air Tuesday.
According to charging papers, Webb was not at fault when he was involved in a traffic accident June 28 in Seattle. The other driver did not have insurance.
After the accident, Webb showed police a proof-of-insurance card from National Merit, a company that police say hasn't insured Webb since 2001. Webb now says he mistakenly grabbed the old card.
Court documents say Geico's records indicate Webb purchased a six-month policy online June 29, and on June 30 attempted to file a claim on the accident that left nearly $6,000 damage to his 2000 Lexus.
Geico denied the claim. But Webb insists he bought the policy at the end of May and was due coverage, court documents say.
In an interview with a Geico insurance investigator that took place in Marshall's office, Webb produced a policy-confirmation receipt that was dated May 29 and bank statements that purported to show debit payments to Geico beginning in May.
Seattle police, who investigated the incident at Geico's request, said that bank statements they received from Washington Mutual under warrant support Geico's contention that the policy was initiated at the end of June.
The first debit payment from Webb to Geico was made on June 30, court documents assert.
Marshall, Webb's attorney, said the charge may show a potential problem with buying insurance online. There may be a lag time, he said, between when consumers receive confirmation of their policy and when the company's computer records the policies.
"I was shocked by this," Webb said. "It would take an absolute idiot to try to defraud someone like that."
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company