Robbery suspect was fraud probe target |

Robbery suspect was fraud probe target

F.T. Norton

A Carson City woman jailed this week armed robbery of a Carson City bank was being investigated, along with her husband, for insurance fraud last year. The charges were dropped against her, and her husband pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor.

Rachel Darlene Barrett, 30, is being held in the Carson City Jail on suspicion of felony armed robbery and burglary in Tuesday morning’s robbery of Nevada State Bank in South Carson City.

According to a criminal complaint filed August 2010 by the state Attorney General’s Office, Rachel Barrett and her husband, Matthew Barrett, 44, were each charged with felony theft and two counts of insurance fraud. The complaint alleges the couple filed a false insurance claim stating that Matthew Barrett had fallen through a faulty step at their previous apartment on East Fifth Street.

An affidavit in support of the arrest warrants indicates that between June 24, 2008, and June 23, 2009, the Barretts staged a “slip and fall” at the complex.

“Matthew Barrett reported, ‘That a stair was broken and he had fallen last evening while carrying his daughter up the stairs,'” the affidavit states.

The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that Barrett, who identified himself as a self-employed landscaper, presented handwritten business documents claiming he had taken deposits for landscaping jobs that he then had to return as a result of injuries suffered in the fall.

In one document, Barrett claimed he returned a $4,000 deposit for an $11,750 landscaping job, and in another he purportedly returned a $4,600 deposit for a $9,375 job.

An attorney for the Barretts sent a letter on their behalf asking the insurance company for a settlement of $27,000 for lost work, medical expenses and pain and suffering, the affidavit states. The insurance company offered $5,000 and the Barretts took it, according to the documents.

But afterward, some neighbors at the complex told investigators that Barrett had said he intentionally caused a hole in the step by “stomping hard.”

“Matthew Barrett said he was helped by Rachel and (he) staged falling,” the witness told the investigator. “Matthew Barrett told (the witness) that he purposefully held, then handed their child to Rachel in order to increase the claim potential.”

The witness went on to say that the Barretts had bragged of staging other accidents.

According to the affidavit:

• In August 2003, Matthew Barrett claimed bodily injury as result of a traffic accident. The disposition was not known.

• in May 2007, Matthew Barrett filed a worker’s compensation claim purporting that he tried to catch a falling couch. The claim is still open.

• In October 2009, Matthew Barrett claimed he was injured by a falling object at a Reno casino; he settled the claim for $1,500.

• In June 2004, Rachel Barrett filed a claim for injury in an auto accident. The disposition was not clear.

• In September 2007, Rachel Barrett claimed she had suffered a head and brain injury when she slipped in a Carson City grocery store. The claim was settled for $3,500.

• In May 2008, Rachel Barrett claimed she injured her lower back slipping in the laundry room of the East Fifth Street apartment complex. No settlement was noted in the document.

The affidavit also notes that Rachel Barrett is on probation for a methamphetamine charge from Missouri and that she has been arrested in the past on charges of passing bad checks, tampering with a motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The affidavit states Matthew Barrett has a criminal history that includes domestic battery, controlled substances, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and disorderly conduct.

When they were arrested on the warrant in August 2010, Rachel Barrett was pregnant with the couple’s second child, and she was booked and released from jail.

On June 22, their 9-month-old daughter, Nicole, died of complications from a degenerative disease.

In January 2011, charges were dismissed against Rachel Barrett in the insurance fraud, and Matthew Barrett pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. He was given probation, ordered to spend 30 days in jail, and must pay restitution in the amount of $9,000, said Deputy Attorney General Rhonda Clifton, who handled the case against the Barretts.

The day before the bank robbery, Clifton said, the couple were in the courthouse for a status check on Matthew. Clifton said Matthew Barrett represented to the court that he was too ill to spend the 30 days in jail, and the judge agreed. She said Barrett told her he was dying.

“Parole and probation notified the judge that this man is not healthy enough to do 30 days in jail. The judge found he was way too ill to do the 30 days in jail. And we walked out into the hall afterward, and I was talking to him and his wife, and that’s when he said he can’t imagine he’d be alive in eight months,” said Clifton.

Matthew Barrett said Wednesday in an interview with the Nevada Appeal that he needs hip surgery, had his gallbladder removed and has a cardiac artery that is hardening.

“If I was going to try to run, my heart would probably not handle (it),” he said.

He said he agreed to plead guilty to the insurance fraud charge only because his father was dying.

Rachel Barrett remains in jail on $40,000 bail on the bank robbery charges. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 25.