A 42-year-old Rhinelander businessman who holds a world snowmobile record was charged Wednesday with car insurance fraud totaling nearly $100,000 following a search at two Rhinelander businesses, according to court records.
John Henricks III was charged with three counts of insurance fraud involving more than $2,500 and one count of identity theft, according to a criminal complaint filed in Oneida County Circuit Court. The complaint said Henricks convinced two of his workers to cooperate with the scheme in 2007.
Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman said investigators searched Custom Collision Crash Center and Rick's Hodag Towing Inc. on Monday, leading to Henricks' arrest.
Henrick's attorney, James Runyon, said Henricks will plead not guilty to the charges. "There is no basis at all for these allegations," Runyon said. "We believe the case will be dismissed before it goes to trial."
Runyon said the charges were filed within just days of a six-year statute of limitations and were based on accusations by two "disgruntled former employees" who Henrick had fired.
"Law enforcement failed to check out some important facts," the attorney said. "This looks to us to be about as fabricated as you can get."
Henricks, also known as Jack Henricks, achieved some fame earlier this year when he drove a snowmobile 190.7 mph, breaking a 24-year-old Guinness world record for the fastest pass on ice, American Snowmobile magazine reported in January. The record was broken at a National Straightline Snowmobile Racing event in Menomonie. Henricks built the snowmobile he used to break the record, Runyon said.
According to the complaint, Henricks submitted insurance claims for damage to a pickup truck and a motorcycle that never occurred. Henricks was a direct repair provider for several insurance companies and Custom Collision was preferred provider for some, the complaint said.
In one claim, Henricks received nearly $25,000 for claiming his 2005 Bourget Fat Daddy motorcycle had been run over by a rental vehicle owned by Custom Collision, the complaint said.
In another claim, a woman who worked for Henricks for five years told investigators that Henricks promised her $1,500 if she submitted a claim to her insurance company, alleging she had backed into Henricks' Bourget motorcycle while leaving for lunch, the complaint said.
The woman told investigators she cooperated in the scheme because her son was getting married and she needed money for the wedding, the complaint said.
The woman's insurance company, Wisconsin Mutual Insurance, paid Henricks nearly $63,000 for damage that never occurred, the complaint said.
The sheriff's department launched the investigation last fall when Ryan Larsen, 27, who had worked for Henricks during various times from 2005 to 2008, told investigators how Henricks got Larsen involved in insurance fraud, the complaint said.
Larsen described Henricks as a "smooth talker" who could be "intimidating at times," the complaint said.
Larsen has not been charged.
Henricks is to return to court July 15 for a preliminary hearing.