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A 61-year-old Racine man faces a felony charge of insurance fraud after an investigation that began last October.

Willie M. Buckley, of Racine, will be back in Racine County Circuit Court April 25 for an 8:30 a.m. preliminary hearing. If convicted of the felony, he faces a fine of $10,000 and three years and six months in prison.

In addition, because Buckley is charged as a repeat offender, a conviction could mean up to four more years in prison. The criminal complaint lists 22 previous convictions that date back to 1976, including several retail thefts, one for felony theft more than $10,000 and armed robbery and one for attempted robbery with the threat of force.

According to the criminal complaint:
Buckley and two other individuals reported to Racine Police Oct. 15 that they had been involved in a two-vehicle traffic accident in the 400 block of Main Street in Racine. Police observed minor paint blemish, no injuries were reported and the parties exchanged information.

A special agent with the National Insurance Crime Bureau contacted police and informed them that all three men sought medical treatment for injuries they claimed to have suffered. Buckley filed a claim with his insurance company Oct. 15.

Video footage from a nearby business showed a Cadillac operated by Buckley pulling in behind a Saturn driven by one of the other men. The Saturn then backed up slightly at a very slow rate. An accident reconstruction determined that it would be “unreasonable to believe the occupants of the 2013 Cadillac Escalade would be injured, in any capacity, as a result of the collision.”

All three men sought medical treatment in Illinois and requested payment of medical bills directly to them, according to the complaint. Buckley sought $11,186 for medical treatment and $2,500 for pain and suffering. Court records indicate he was paid $709.16 by his insurance company.

More police news:

Woman charged $2,500 to friend’s mother’s credit card

DA: Drugs and $1,000s in cash found during traffic stop

Second man sought in shooting death of Tremayne Brown

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.