Arrests for June 2002
These arrests were made possible through the cooperation of the Frauds Bureau, law enforcement, the insurance industry and the public.
To report suspected incidents of insurance fraud, call 1-888-FRAUDNY
- Mitchel Engel of Armonk, NY, was sentenced on 6/26/02 on his conviction for falsifying business records in the 1st degree, following a guilty plea on 3/27/02. Engel filed applications with numerous insurers seeking whole life and/or universal life insurance for a relative who was 70 years old. In all but one of the applications, Engel was named beneficiary of a total of $20 million in insurance benefits on the life of his elderly relative. He presented false documentation in support of his claim of insurable interest and provided false net worth and income information about the relative. He was aided in the scheme by Laurence Kahn, a Woodbury, NY insurance agent who helped file some of the applications. Engel also filed similarly false application with similarly supporting documentation to insure the life of an acquaintance for $7 million, again naming himself as beneficiary. He was sentenced to time served/shock probation and 125 hours of community service. He was also ordered to forfeit all ownership rights, as well as the cash value accumulated in these life insurance policies. Laurence Kahn of Woodbury, NY, was also convicted as an accomplice on a charge of scheme to defraud and will be sentenced on 7/24/02. The Frauds Bureau, the Westchester County District Attorneys Office and the North Castle Police Department pooled resources on the investigation that led to the arrests in this case.
- Peter J. Wahl, a self-employed homebuilder, pled guilty on 6/19/02 to attempted insurance fraud and was sentenced to a fine of $500 plus a $125 court surcharge and 40 hours of community service. Wahl submitted a claim for nearly $4,000 to Travelers Insurance Company for the theft of items from his garage. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and Travelers revealed that he increased the cost of a stolen generator by $500 on the receipt submitted as proof of purchase.
- Robert J. Ackerman Jr. pled guilty on 6/19/02 to insurance fraud in the 5th degree. Ackerman reported that his 1977 Porsche was stolen on 6/17/01 from his home. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Town of Greece Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriffs Office led to his arrest on 4/25/02 based on evidence that he had gotten rid of the car by driving it into a gorge. Sentencing is set for September 2002.
- Rodney Hawkins, a former New York City police officer pled guilty on 6/13/02 to participating in a conspiracy to defraud insurers and defrauding the city of his services. He was suspended from the force in August 2001 following his arrest, along with more than 50 others involved in the scam. The suspended officer, a participant in a fraud ring that staged accidents and bilked insurers of $1.5 million, admitted he took bribes to write police reports for accidents that never occurred. The rings leader, Quentin "Flint" Hawkins (no relation to the police officer), who was accused of either staging or fabricating 14 accidents from 2/99 to 7/00, has also pled guilty. The arrests were the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the U.S. Attorneys Office, the FBI, the NYPD and the New York City Department of Investigations.
- On 6/5/02, Kasia M. Jones of upstate New York was sentenced to three years probation and restitution after pleading guilty to insurance fraud on 4/10/02. Between 9/29/00 and 4/27/01, she collected approximately $8,000 in workers' compensation benefits from The Hartford Insurance Company while employed full time at an employment agency. The Buffalo Police Department executed the arrest based on information uncovered during an investigation by the Frauds Bureau.
- Kelly Scott, a former aide at a Senior Care Facility in Geneva, NY, pled guilty to insurance fraud, perjury and petit larceny and was sentenced on 6/3/02 to three years probation, $7,725 in restitution and 200 hours of community service. Scott filed a workers compensation claim with AIG Insurance Company on 9/14/99 and from that time until 12/12/00, she received more than $7,000 in workers compensation benefits. However, the suspect was videotaped cleaning a house and subsequently accepted payment of $150 in cash from a private investigator hired by AIG. She was arrested by the Frauds Bureau with the assistance of the Geneva Police Department.
- WORLD TRADE CENTER FRAUD
Since the tragic events of September 11, the Frauds Bureau has been fast-tracking World Trade Center claims to ensure they receive prompt attention. A number of arrests have already been made in WTC-related cases and the Bureau is investigating additional complaints. More arrests are anticipated.A Staten Island resident was arrested on 6/19/02 as part of a sweep by the Manhattan District Attorneys Office that charged 15 people with stealing more than $52,000 from charities established to assist victims of the World Trade Center attacks. In some cases, defendants allegedly filed fraudulent insurance claims in an attempt to obtain undeserved benefits. The arrested Staten Island man applied for disaster relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), alleging he had lost his job at HIP as a result of the World Trade Center disaster. However, HIP records showed that he was terminated on April 2, 2001 after he failed to appear for work. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and FEMA led to his arrest.
- SUBSCRIPTIONS FILLED HERE
Arrested on 6/26/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Syracuse Police Department led to the arrest of a woman charged with presenting subscriptions for several controlled substances on which she had allegedly forged a doctors name. She was also accused of submitting fraudulent claims to Blue Cross Blue Shield for reimbursement.
- NO-FAULT FRAUD
Arrested on 6/25/02
Charged with insurance fraud and falsifying business records
A Brooklyn resident was accused of submitting a fraudulent police accident report in order to receive medical benefits for nonexistent injuries under the no-fault portion of his auto insurance coverage.
- KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING
Arrested on 6/24/02
Charged with arson in the 3rd degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree
The defendant in this case reported that early in the morning of 1/24/02, he awoke to the sound and smell of fire in his home and claimed no knowledge of its origins. His insurer, Security Mutual Insurance Company, forwarded his claim to the Frauds Bureau on suspicion of fraud. A subsequent investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Otsego County Sheriffs Office uncovered evidence of arson and charges were brought against this defendant. He was remanded to the Otsego County jail in lieu of $6,000 bail.
- "OPERATION WHIPLASH"
Arrested on 6/19/02
Charged with various counts of insurance fraud
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Queens District Attorneys Office, the NYPD Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad and the State Police led to the arrest of 21 individuals in a continuing auto insurance fraud investigation that began in 1999. An additional 20 persons are being sought. This latest group of defendants is alleged to have submitted false claims of auto accident-related injuries stemming from ten accidents purported to have occurred between 5/15/00 and 3/19/01. The accidents were subsequently "validated" by bogus police accident reports created by an NYPD Administrative Aide. The Aide, Belinda Lovander of Queens, pled guilty to enterprise corruption and was sentenced on 3/5/02 to serve two-to-six years in prison. The charges stem from a massive investigation in which 112 persons, including attorneys, doctors, medical professionals and others, were charged in December 2001 with taking part in a multi-million dollar auto insurance fraud ring in the New York metropolitan area. The defrauded insurers, including GEICO, National Grange, Progressive, Prudential, State Farm and The Robert Plan, paid settlements in this phase of the investigation ranging from $975 to $25,000 for a total of $127,118.
- KEEP EM COMING
Arrested on 6/17/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 5th degree
A New Jersey woman was arrested on 6/17/02 and charged with participating in a staged accident. This was the latest arrest in an investigation into one of the largest no-fault fraud rings ever to operate in New York. A sweep in August 2001 led to the indictment of 67 persons and the arrest of 55 for their involvement in this massive fraud ring that bilked insurers of $1.5 million. Among the insurers involved were GEICO, Allstate and The Robert Plan. The rings leader has pled guilty to staging and fabricating accidents; and a suspended New York City Police Officer has confessed to taking bribes to write police reports for accidents that never occurred (see above entry under GUILTY!). This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the U.S. Attorneys Office, the FBI, the NYPD Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad and the New York City Department of Investigations.
- CARRYING A TORCH
Arrested on 6/14/02
Charged with arson in the 3rd degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and attempted grand larceny
The defendant in this case was accused of falsely reporting his car stolen and submitting a claim for the loss to State Farm Insurance Company. The charges also alleged that he gave false statements to State Farm in support of the claim. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Buffalo Fire Investigation Department and the Buffalo Police Department revealed that the car was discovered on fire on 4/12/02 in Buffalo. The cause was listed as arson. At the time of the fire, the defendant was out of town. However, the investigation uncovered evidence that the defendant hired a man, arrested on 5/16/02 and charged with arson, to torch the car for $200. An accomplice to the crime is unidentified at this time.
- SWEEPING UP
Arrested on 6/13-14/02
Charged with insurance fraud and workers compensation fraud
The Frauds Bureau, the Suffolk County District Attorneys Office, the State Insurance Fund and the Workers Compensation Fraud Inspector Generals Office pooled resources to carry out a sweep that resulted in the arrest of 19 people and the issuance of three corporation summonses. Most of those arrested were observed by members of law enforcement agencies working while claiming to have medical conditions that entitled them to workers compensation benefits. Those arrested defrauded the taxpayers of New York State of more than a quarter-million dollars.
- JAIL BY WAY OF LAS VEGAS
Arrested on 6/13/02
Charged with falsifying business records in the 1st degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
A Schenectady man was accused of fraudulently reporting that his home had been burglarized and electronic equipment stolen. He submitted a claim to State Farm Insurance Company and was subsequently paid nearly $4,600 for the loss. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the U.S. Secret Service revealed that he had been taken into custody on 4/17/02 by the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshals in Nevada after fleeing to avoid prosecution on unrelated federal charges. Further investigation revealed that the defendant had stored the allegedly stolen equipment in the trunk of his car and scratched pry marks on his front door to give the appearance of forced entry. U.S. Marshals transported him to Schenectady where he is being held pending state and federal charges.
- A SAILORS LIFE
Arrested on 6/12/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted larceny, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing
A Brooklyn plumbing contractor was charged with conspiring with a second defendant in this case to have his boat illegally disposed of in order to obtain $35,000 in insurance proceeds from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. The efforts of the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD Harbor Vessel Theft Unit led to these arrests.
- U-HAUL ALIBI
Arrested on 6/11/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
A nurses aide and an unemployed friend were charged with purposely driving a 1986 Chevy Blazer repeatedly into a dumpster causing $1,800 in damages. They reported that the car, owned by the unemployed man, had been struck in an accident by a U-Haul truck they had rented for the purpose of providing an alibi. They then submitted damage estimates to Republic Western Insurance Company. Their arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Syracuse Police Department.
- FEDERAL CHARGES
Arrested on 6/5/02
Charged with insurance and bank/credit card fraud under Title 18 U.S. Code
An investigation conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau and the U.S. Secret Service led to the arrest of two Staten Island men who were accused of staging accidents and various other fraudulent acts involving banks and credit cards.
- STOLEN OR STORED?
Arrested on 6/5/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 2nd degree
Following a 9/26/00 fire at her home, a Beacon, NY, woman was accused of submitting a fraudulent claim and a sworn proof of loss to Allstate Insurance Company for more than $91,000 in property allegedly lost in the fire. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Beacon City Police and the Dutchess County District Attorneys Office found evidence that this suspect moved the allegedly stolen property to a storage facility before the fire. The fire was determined to be incendiary in nature; however, no one has yet to be charged with setting it.
- BACK AT WORK
Arrested on 6/3/02
Charged with fraudulent practices under the Workers Compensation Law
Following a back injury sustained on the job, a Monroe County resident filed a workers compensation claim with Royal SunAlliance Insurance Company. He subsequently submitted written documents that he was not working when in fact he was. A joint investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and Royal SunAlliance Insurance Companys Special Investigations Unit resulted in his arrest.
- ENHANCED DAMAGES
Arrested on 6/3/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, criminal mischief in the 2nd degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
On 4/25/02, the Frauds Bureau, working with the NYPD Auto Crime Division, delivered a vehicle to an auto body shop in East Rockaway for repair. The vehicle, which was being used as part of a sting operation, had damages valued at $1,800. The manager of the shop allegedly enhanced the damages and submitted a claim for $4,900 to Crum & Forster Insurance Company. The evidence was sufficient for an arrest.
- KNEE JERK
Arrested on 5/31/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing and workers compensation fraud
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Workers Compensation Fraud Inspector Generals Office resulted in the arrest of a former New York City bus driver charged with filing a false workers compensation claim. The defendant reported that he had injured his knee on the job and required surgery. Evidence uncovered during the investigation revealed that the knee injury was pre-existing and, therefore, the knee surgery was not a covered benefit under the health insurance provided by his employer, New York City Transit.