Insurance Employees Plead Guilty To Living The High Life

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Two employees of The Hartford, which the rest of us call The Hartford Insurance Company, pleaded guilty today to charges that they let a Houston attorney entertain the hell out of them in return for helping him make a mint off lawsuits.

Rachel Rossow and Frederick Prestage pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in U.S. District Judge David Hittner's court. The U.S. Attorney's office says they accepted luxury cars and "hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments" from Houston attorney Warren Todd Hoeffner, who was filing a lot of suits involving silica, a substance once thought to be the next asbestos when it came to big-bucks litigation.

Prosecutors say Prestage got more than $500,000 while Rossow, who obviously is a much better negotiator, received two separate payments of $312,500 and a third payment of $1,675,000. In return, they settled claims Hoeffner filed on behalf of clients in a way that was very, very favorably to Hoeffner. (More evidence of Rossow's chops: She got a BMW 530, Prestage got a Volvo.)

Hoeffner himself was tried on similar charges last October, but a hung jury led to a mistrial. He's now filed an appeal seeking to block a re-trial.

"the plea agreement entered into by Prestage and Rossow provides each the option to withdraw their pleas of guilty if the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals bars the prosecution of Hoeffner on double jeopardy grounds," the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.