Couple arrested on insurance fraud charge

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 05:01 AM.

CHIPLEY — Two Chipley residents were arrested on charges of insurance fraud on Oct. 17 in connection with a Dec. 28, 2011, residential fire.

Ruben Alonzo Laurel, 42, and Lorrie Ann Laurel, 47, both of Chipley were arrested on charges of insurance fraud (more than $20,000 and less than $100,000) by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on behalf of the state, according to an affidavit from the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.

The Laurels own Chipley Physical Therapy, as well as physical therapy businesses in Bonifay, Marianna and Graceville.

The residence at 4139 Crystal Lake Drive in Chipley was gutted by fire on Dec. 28 and was not the primary residence of the Laurels, but was used as a part-time residence at the lake, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, expert analysis determined that 15 items claimed to have been lost in the fire were not present in the house at the time of the fire. The 15 items had a combined value of $64,759.10. Investigators say other items’ value had been inflated to exaggerate the insurance claim.

Insurance fraud (more than $20,000 and less than $100,000) is a second-degree felony.

“These allegations are not true,” said Ruben Laurel on Friday. “This has nothing to do with our practice, and we have hired an attorney to take care of it.”

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