DES MOINES, Iowa — An Ottumwa man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in helping a woman fakes the deaths of three of her family members to collect insurance payments.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Iowa’s southern district says 34-year-old Cletus Abongwa Ngwa was sentenced in September and ordered to pay joint restitution of more than $260,000 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

His co-defendant, 47-year-old Venancia Amora Rodriguez, was sentenced last year to two years in prison for her role.

Prosecutors say she claimed her 17-year-old son had died of dengue fever in the Philippines in 2014. Months later, she claimed her husband had died of a heart ailment in that country, and the next year claimed her 15-year-old son drowned there.

Officials say all three are still alive and that Rodriguez paid people in the Philippines to fake the death documents.

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