The wife of a Jones County commissioner was sentenced to 15 years, three of them in prison, Wednesday after pleading guilty to her part in a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Arleatha Battle Martin, 44, pleaded guilty to racketeering in a Bibb County Superior Court hearing.
Her husband, Daylon Martin, attended the hearing.
Martin worked as an Allstate Insurance company claims adjuster at an office on Riverside Drive in Macon from 2011. A 2013 random audit uncovered 23 instances in which Martin fraudulently issued insurance settlement checks to her brother, 40-year-old Christopher Lorenzo Battle, said prosecutor Myra Tisdale. Battle also is charged in the case.
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Battle, while working as a Locust Grove contractor and CEO of Mechanical Energy Solutions Inc., received money from the claims although neither he nor Mechanical Energy Solutions had provided services or materials or experienced losses that could be compensated.
A “red flag” discovered in the audit was a $6,375 payment to Battle in connection with a 2011 school bus accident in Douglas County although investigators later determined that Battle’s children — who supposedly were injured in the incident — weren’t on the bus. Students on the bus were in high school while Battle’s children were younger and attended school in other counties, Tisdale said.
Martin’s lawyer, Sam Hart, said the theft began after Battle went through a divorce and had trouble making child support payments due to a slow-down in his work.
“She loves him dearly,” Hart said of Martin and Battle’s relationship. “That was the reason it started.”
Several women spoke on Martin’s behalf, asking the judge to offer her mercy and a second chance.
Tisdale asked that Martin be sentenced to 20 years, with five of them in prison, after taking into consideration that she came to court with a $25,000 down payment toward her nearly $80,000 restitution.
Martin, who left Allstate and worked for Geico insurance until her 2015 arrest, apologized before she was sentenced.
“I’m very sorry,” she said, asking for mercy.
Martin said she purposefully left Allstate to end the fraud.
“I had to get out,” she said.
She said she’s learned from her experience and hopes to mentor children.
The judge granted a request from Hart to sentence Martin as a first offender, meaning she won’t have a felony record if she successfully completes her sentence. If she’s successful and has paid all restitution owed within 10 years, the judge said the sentence can be ended early.
He agreed to allow Martin to turn herself in at the Bibb County jail Monday in lieu of being taken to jail after the hearing.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.