Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston announced that a Texas pilot has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and arson charges.
Theodore Robert Wright, III, 32, formerly of Kemah, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson. At sentencing, Wright faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count and 5 to 20 years in federal prison on the arson conspiracy count.
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 assets, including vehicles, aircraft, and vessels. Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, 45, of Houston, Texas, Raymond Fosdick, 41, of Houston, Texas, and Edward Delima, 41, of Honolulu, Hawaii, acquired assets and obtained insurance coverage in amounts exceeding their purchase prices. Wright and his co-conspirators then devised and carried out schemes to destroy the assets and defraud insurance companies.
The 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 not recovered. The Lamborghini Gallardo crashed into a ditch full of water, causing the vehicle to flood. When Fosdick set it on fire at Wright’s direction at an airport in Athens, Texas, a blaze destroyed a Cessna 500. The Hunter Passage sank in a marina in Hawaii. They filed fraudulent insurance claims on each of these incidents. Wright and his co-defendants also submitted a fraudulent $1 million personal injury lawsuit related to the crash in the Gulf of Mexico. They settled the suit in court for $100,000.
On May 17, 2017, officials charged Wright, Gordon, Fosdick, and Delima with various offenses related to their conduct in the scheme in the Eastern District of Texas. Wright’s co-conspirators have all pleaded guilty. On September 26, 2017, Delima admitted guilt to conspiring to commit wire fraud. On October 12, 2017, Fosdick admitted guilt to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson. On October 25, 2017, Gordon pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent.
At sentencing, Delima faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Fosdick faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count and 5 to 20 years in federal prison on the arson conspiracy count. Gordon faces up to 5 years in federal prison. The court has not determined sentencing dates.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and L. Frank Coan, Jr. prosecuted.