Arrests for September 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
- Lucinda Baines-Travett, a former employee of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Central New York, pled guilty on 9/18/02 in Onondaga County Court to charges of stealing $103,625 from the company by processing fraudulent claims for her own benefit between November 2000 and March 2002. The judge promised to sentence Baines-Travett to five years probation and full restitution at her sentencing scheduled for 11/6/02. The Frauds Bureau and the Onondaga County DAs Office conducted the investigation that led to her arrest. In explaining why no jail time was requested, the prosecutor noted that Baines-Travett had no prior criminal record, she pled guilty to a felony that will mean state prison if she commits a new crime, she lost her job and the company wanted restitution as a condition of probation. Baines-Travett will have five years to make good on the restitution.
- On 9/10/02, Oliver T. Mayo of Buffalo, NY, pled guilty in Erie County Court of attempted insurance fraud in the 3rd degree. In August 2000, Mayo filed a disability claim with The Hartford Insurance Company supported by documents allegedly from his doctor stating that he was disabled due to cancer. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the New York State Police revealed that the doctors signature had been forged and the defendant does not have cancer. Before his arrest, Mayo collected nearly $3,300 in undeserved disability benefits.
Lisa Melski, a laborer from West Seneca, NY, was sentenced in Erie County Court on 9/16/02 to five years probation and ordered to repay Allstate Insurance Company $12,658. On 6/28/02, Melski pled guilty to two counts of attempted insurance fraud in the 3rd degree. Melski was arrested twice within two weeks back in February 2002. After her car had been destroyed by fire on March 2000, she filed a claim with Allstate stating she had purchased the car in November 1999 from a private owner for $16,000. She further stated that at the time of purchase, the car had been driven a total of 24,000 miles. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Police revealed that she bought the car from a dealer for $5,400 and the actual mileage was 122,315. Had Allstate been aware of these facts, Melski would have been reimbursed $5,977, instead of the $18,000 she was paid on her claim. The second arrest was the result of a claim Melski filed with New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company stating that in March 2001, while in the process of moving, a gas grill valued at $1,350 and tools with an estimated worth of $2,740 were located in a car owned by her friend when the car was stolen. In support of her claim, Melski submitted a fraudulent sales receipt for the grill. Investigators determined she never purchase a grill. In addition, the investigation uncovered evidence that the receipt she submitted for the tools was the same receipt submitted by another friend in a 1991 theft claim. The friends name had been erased and Melskis name substituted. The date on the receipt was 1985, which would have made the defendant 14 years old when she bought the tools. The friend, who claimed her car containing the grill and the tools had been stolen, was arrested in February in connection with the fraudulent stolen-car claim.
- WORLD TRADE CENTER FRAUD
Since the tragic events of September 11, the Frauds Bureau has been fast-tracking World Trade Center claims to ensure that they receive prompt attention. The Bureau has tracked at least 55 suspected fraudulent September 11-related claims thus far and is investigating additional complaints. A number of arrests have been made in WTC-related cases and more are anticipated.
- HOUSE FIRE
Arrested on 9/30/02
Charged with insurance fraud
The charges in this case alleged that the defendant attempted to defraud both Utica National and Cherry Valley Co-operative Insurance Companies of more than $100,000. Both insurers received claims filed by the defendant following a June 27, 2002 fire that destroyed an empty home that he once owned. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau with the assistance of the Otsego County Sheriffs Office, Districts Attorneys Office and Office of Emergency Services; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and the two insurers involved revealed that he had not owned the home since 1999. Both insurers received itemized lists of contents worth a total of $126,000 allegedly destroyed in the fire. The fire has been ruled incendiary and the investigation is ongoing.
- TOO LATE
Arrested on 9/26/02
Charged with insurance fraud, attempted grand larceny, making a false written statement and falsely reporting an incident
A Staten Island truck driver reported his car stolen three days after obtaining insurance coverage. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau revealed that the car had been recovered by the New York City Marshalls Office with no sign of theft, but with major front-end damage. The suspect subsequently admitted that he was involved in an accident but had no insurance coverage at the time. He obtained coverage and then reported the car stolen.
- LICENSE EXPIRED
Arrested on 9/25/02
Charged with insurance fraud and scheme to defraud
The Frauds Bureau pooled resources with the Suffolk County District Attorneys Office to bring about the arrest of a former insurance agent whose license had expired in June 2001. He was accused of collecting premiums for auto insurance but failing to remit them to a number of insurance companies. Instead, the defendant allegedly issued fraudulent auto insurance identification cards to the clients.
- FALSE CLAIMS
Arrested on 9/24/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
The charges in this case alleged that a self-employed pharmacist filed fraudulent claims for prescription drugs in the names of a number of his customers. He was reimbursed $22,000 based on the phony claims which were submitted over a 13-month period from August 1999 through September 2000.
- PAID TWICE
Arrested on 9/23/02
Charged with falsely reporting an incident and petit larceny
After a child care workers car was accidentally struck by her employers car, the employer requested that the car be repaired privately, thereby avoiding filing an insurance claim. However, after the repairs were paid for by the employer, the defendant reported that her car had been the object of a hit-and-run accident. She presented false documentation to support her claim and her insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, "reimbursed" her in the amount of $822.12 for the repairs. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the New York State Police led to her arrest.
- FRAUD RING THWARTED
Arrested on 9/19/02
Charged with insurance fraud and falsifying business records
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Attorney Generals Office led to the arrest of 13 persons for their participation in a no-fault insurance fraud ring that operated in Manhattan and Brooklyn during 2001. The defendants allegedly staged accidents and sought treatment for feigned injuries in order to collect insurance settlements under New Yorks no-fault law.
- NO COVERAGE
Arrested on 9/19/02
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree and insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
A Suffolk County broker was charged with collecting insurance premiums from the owners of a towing company but failing to remit them to National Grange Insurance Company. As a result, the business was unknowingly operating without insurance coverage. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Suffolk County DAs Office led to his arrest.
- NO SALE
Arrested on 9/16/02
Charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the 4th degree
A joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the State Police Auto Theft Unit and New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Companys Special Investigations Unit led to the arrest of an unemployed Rochester resident charged with attempting to sell a car he knew was stolen. The owner had reported the car, a 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis, stolen on 9/9/02. Subsequently, investigators learned that the defendant was offering the stolen car for sale. With funding provided by New York Central Mutual Fire, the Frauds Bureau and the State Police conducted a sting operation during which an investigator working undercover offered to purchase the stolen car. The defendant agreed to sell it for $500. The defendant later confessed that he and a group of friends were ransacking cars in the area and found the keys to the car in the glove compartment. The car was recovered and turned over to the insurer.
- CAR FIRE
Arrested on 9/16/02
Charged with insurance fraud and falsely reporting an incident
The defendant in this case was accused of falsely reporting his car stolen. However, records indicate that more than an hour before he filed his report, the New York City Fire Department had responded to a vehicle fire, extinguished the blaze and taken possession of the car. Further investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the FDNY revealed that the serial number of the car in the possession of the FDNY matched the serial number of the defendants car.
- EXPORT BUSINESS
Arrested on 9/13/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
An investigation conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the NYPD Auto Crime Division and the New York State Attorney Generals Office led to the arrest of a Queens health care worker on charges that on 3/7/02 she falsely reported to the NYPD and Farmers Insurance Group that her 1999 Honda Civic had been stolen. Her report stated that she parked her car on the street at 8:00 p.m. on 3/6/02 and discovered it missing the next morning. However, evidence uncovered in the investigation indicated that the car had been exported to the Dominican Republic via Port Newark on 2/4/02.
- NO WITNESSES
Arrested on 9/12/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 4th degree
An upstate woman filed a claim with State Farm Insurance Company stating that property stored in the basement of her home had suffered water damage. In support of her claim, the defendant submitted signed statements from persons she maintained were witnesses to the damage. However, interviews with these witnesses conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the Niagara County Sheriffs Department revealed that the signed documents were forgeries.
- FUNNY BUSINESS
Arrested on 9/11/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau led to the arrest of a business owner from Oneonta, NY, on charges that he falsely reported to the Oneonta Police Department that a burglary had occurred at his business. He subsequently filed an allegedly fraudulent claim with the Otsego County Patrons Insurance Company for a loss estimated at between $12,000 and $18,000.
- FIREFIGHTER ARRESTED
Arrested on 9/10/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
A working New York City firefighter was accused of collecting approximately $7,000 in undeserved workers compensation benefits from The Hartford Insurance Company. His arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Workers Compensation Inspector General, the New York City Department of Investigations and the Bronx District Attorneys Office.
On 8/28/02, Charles Slavinski, a General Motors employee from Niagara Falls, pled guilty in Niagara County Court to one count of arson in the 4th degree. Following a fire at his home in January 2001, Slavinski filed a claim with Travelers Insurance Company for $108,447 in property damage. However, during an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the North Tonawanda Police Department, witnesses were located that placed him at the scene. Faced with this evidence, Slavinski confessed to setting the fire. He had faced indictment by a grand jury on arson, insurance fraud and attempted grand larceny charges. At his sentencing scheduled for 10/24/02, he is expected to be ordered to pay approximately $37,000 in restitution to Travelers.
Arrested on 8/29/02
Charged with insurance fraud, falsely reporting an incident and making a punishable false written statement
The suspect in this case was accused of falsely reporting to the police and his insurance company that his car had been stolen when he was fully aware that his car had been legitimately towed by an authorized towing facility. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD revealed that the car was stored at the towing facility for several months and subsequently sold at auction. Furthermore, this suspect had been notified as to the whereabouts of his car by the towing facility and then by the auction company prior to the sale.
- NO-FAULT FRAUD
Arrested on 8/22/02
Charged with falsifying business records in the 2nd degree, conspiracy in the 5th degree, insurance fraud in the 5th degree and petit larceny
The charges in this case alleged that the defendant, acting in concert with another person arrested on 7/30/02, submitted a fraudulent police accident report to a medical clinic in order to receive medical benefits under the no-fault portion of her insurance policy. Her arrest followed an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD.
- NO INJURIES
Arrested on 7/31/03
Charged with insurance fraud, falsifying business records and grand larceny
An unemployed Brooklyn woman was accused of submitting a fraudulent police accident report to a medical facility and receiving medical treatment for nonexistent injuries in order to receive reimbursement under her no-fault insurance coverage. An investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad resulted in her arrest.