Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento woman pleads guilty to auto insurance fraud

A Sacramento woman who claimed her vehicle was stolen from a church parking lot in 2014 has pleaded guilty to felony automobile insurance fraud.

Lawonda Donaldson, 44, entered the guilty plea Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Donaldson filed a report with the Sacramento Police Department on May 8, 2014, stating that her car had been stolen from the parking lot of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. She also filed an insurance claim with GEICO for theft of the vehicle, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. At the time she filed the claim, Donaldson told the insurance company that the vehicle had no damage or mechanical problem before the alleged theft and that she was current on her car payments.

The car was found a short time later and had been severely damaged, authorities said. Sugar had been placed in the gas tank and the exterior had been scratched with a nail or ice pick. The seats were ripped open and bleach had been poured on them.

Donaldson claimed that she had locked her car but did not set the alarm. She also stated that she had all of the keys.

An investigation by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit revealed that the car had been recently diagnosed as needing $3,000 in repair work, which was never completed. Donaldson also was found to be six months behind in her car payments.

Under the plea agreement, Donaldson will be sentenced to 210 days county jail and five years formal probation. She also will be required to pay $1,032 in restitution to GEICO, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Donaldson is to be sentenced May 17 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy