CLOSE

Get an understanding of the differences between misdemeanors and felonies in New Mexico. Farmington Daily Times

Suspect faces a total of 15 felony charges

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

FARMINGTON — A woman accused of defrauding a Farmington business of more than $11,500 was arrested this week on new charges for allegedly filing more than $21,000 in false insurance claims on an apartment fire and stolen laptop.

Brittany Lanier, also known as Brittany Cole, is accused of third-degree and fourth-degree felony counts of false insurance claim, fourth-degree felony counts of fraud and possession of a controlled substance along with a misdemeanor count of making a false police report and fourth petty misdemeanors, according to court records.

Those charges are spread across three criminal cases filed on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.

She is accused of filing two false insurance claims for $20,000 and about $1,300 and defrauding a Farmington insurance office of $1,575.

Lanier is also accused of possessing a substance which tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine.

Previous charges

The defendant has a total of 15 felony charges pending across multiple cases. She did not have legal representation on her three new cases.

Eric Morrow, Lanier's attorney on two of her pending cases, did not respond to requests for comment on Oct. 25.

The Daily Times reported the owner of Special K Fitness accused Lanier of a loss of about $12,000.

Lanier allegedly wrote herself checks she cashed, racking up about $6,900 in Amazon purchases on the owner's account and fraudulently obtaining an Apple MacBook Air laptop from Office Depot, according to The Daily Times archives.

Apartment fire

The new Farmington Police Department investigation was launched on Sept. 18 when an employee at the State Farm Insurance at 3060 E. 20th St. wanted to report a fraud allegedly committed by Lanier, according to court documents.

The employee told police Lanie started a renter's insurance policy on Aug. 14, and she filed an insurance claim for a fire on Aug. 17.

The insurance agency determined the fire actually occurred on Aug. 1, when she was not insured at the time. The claim on the fire was for $20,000.

The detective was aware of the fire from a Aug. 21 court hearing.

Lanier told the prosecution and a judge she had a fire in her apartment and she was waiting for the insurance to pay her, so she could hire an attorney.

The defendant handed the detective a copy of the incident report, which stated the fire occurred on Aug. 1.

Laptop computer

Lanier later reported her MacBook Air laptop computer was stolen and filed an insurance claim for it on Sept. 15.

Based on prior investigation, the MacBook Air was purchased by Special K Fitness without consent of the owner and reportedly cost $1,300.

Police located the laptop computer at a Farmington pawn shop, after a pawn ticket was found in Lanier's purse during a July 31 arrest. The computer was collected as evidence.

False police report

An insurance investigator spoke to the detective.

The investigator stated Lanier was told to file a police report for the stolen laptop.

A review of police reports and body camera footage showed Lanier reporting her laptop stolen from her residence on Sept. 15.

Motel room

The insurance agency also suffered a financial loss after paying for Lanier's motel room after the fire. The motel stay cost the insurance agency about $1,575.

Lanier was arrested around 9:10 a.m. on Oct. 23 following a traffic stop in the Childhaven parking lot, according to the probable cause statement.

Drug charges

An officer arrested her on the false insurance claim warrant and found a glass vial with a white crystalline substance during an inventory of the vehicle before it was towed.

The substance tested positive for the presence of meth. She was also charged with possessing meth during her July 31 arrest.

The defendant was ordered to be released on her own recognizance by Farmington Magistrate Judge Rena Scott during an Oct. 24 hearing, according to court records.

She has a status hearing set for the morning of Oct. 31 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.daily-times.com/story/news/crime/2019/10/26/aztec-woman-farmington-business-insurance-fraud-charges/2459257001/