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Rhinelander man gets over 10 years in prison in federal fraud case


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- A former Rhinelander man will spend the next 10 years in prison and have to repay over $1.3 million for defrauding insurance companies.

43 year old John Henricks III was sentenced today in federal court for using the U.S. Mail to defraud insurance companies. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb laid down that sentence after Henricks plead guilty to the charges last August.

Prosecutors say Henricks used his prior business, Custom Collision, to defraud 19 auto insurance companies. Henricks would stage auto accidents and send in false work orders in order to collect insurance on the vehicles. Assistant US Attorney Tim O'Shea says Oneida County officials did the bulk of the work. "They recognized that this was an important case, they recognized that it was important to do the hard work to hold Mr. Henricks accountable, and the credit in this 10 year sentence goes to the Oneida County sheriff's department.

Oneida County sheriff's officials have been trying to recover some of that money, but Sheriff Grady Hartman says Henricks has spent time trying to hide or get rid of the money so it can't be collected. "We're not going to be able to find all the money for restitution, Mr. Henricks is going to have to make some payments on that after he's done with his lengthy prison sentence."

In court today, Judge Crabb said Henricks "couldn't be trusted to tell the time of day" and refused the routine lowering of sentence for admitting guilt. He'll spend 121 months in federal prison.

The case isn't quite over though. Sheriff Hartman says they're still looking into things. "We're pleased that this part is over. We have some follow up investigation to do, possibly bringing more people in as a result of that." Officials say Henricks coerced employees at the auto shop to take part in the fraud.