Arrests for October 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
- On 10/24/02, Charles Slavinski, a General Motors employee from Niagara Falls, was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $37,000 in restitution to Travelers Insurance Company. Slavinski pled guilty in Niagara County Court on 8/28/02 to one count of arson in the 4th degree. Following a fire at his home in January 2001, Slavinski filed a claim with Travelers for $108,447 in property damage. However, during an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the North Tonawanda Police Department, witnesses were located who 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.
- Todd Feiock of Brockport, NY, pled guilty on 10/23/02 in Town of Sweden Court to charges of attempted fraudulent practices. He was given a one-year conditional discharge and agreed to relinquish his future workers compensation benefits. Following a back injury sustained on the job, Feiock filed a workers compensation claim with Royal SunAlliance Insurance Company. He subsequently submitted written documents stating that he was not working when in fact he was. A joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau and Royal SunAlliances Special Investigations Unit led to his arrest in June 2002.
- Arthur Blanco, a former insurance agent working with an expired license, was convicted on 10/10/02 of grand larceny and sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison. Blanco diverted $91,000 in premiums from a clients annuity and opened another annuity in the name of his sister. During the "free-look" period, Blanco requested and received a refund of the $91,000 which he then deposited into an account owned jointly by himself and his sister. The 1-3 year state prison sentence will be served after his release from federal prison where he is currently serving time for a similar crime.
- Following four weeks of testimony, Bruce H. Mason, a former Binghamton businessman, was found guilty on 10/28/02 of 15 of 17 felony counts of arson, use of fire to commit a felony, mail and bank fraud, and use of a fictitious name in a mail-fraud scheme. He was convicted in connection with a 1/22/99 fire that destroyed a manufacturing business that he owned and operated. One witness at the trial, an admitted arsonist who is awaiting sentencing for arson, testified that he set the fire but was never paid the $10,000 he and Mason agreed on. The indictment charged that Mason also inflated the balance in his bank accounts in a check-kiting scheme that cost BSB Bank & Trust more than $40,000, that he changed the name of his business in 1997 to defraud its creditors, and defrauded creditors by securing business using phony credit references. Sentencing is scheduled for 2/28/03. The Frauds Bureau worked closely with the Broome County Bureau of Fire Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and the Broome County Sheriffs Office on this investigation.
- Victoria Walczak of Warsaw, NY, was arrested and pled guilty on 10/18/02 to arson in the 3rd degree, fraud in the 3rd degree and attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree in connection with a fire at her home in June 2000. In addition, she was charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business record in three other insurance fraud cases that were uncovered during the fire investigation. Walczak set a fire in her duplex home while five occupants slept in the other half of the duplex. The five occupants escaped the house unharmed. Following the fire, Walczak filed a renters insurance claim with her insurer for more than $15,000. An investigation by the Genesee County Sheriffs Office revealed that a fire of incendiary nature originated in Walczaks section of the duplex. When questioned, Walczak at first denied any involvement. However, the investigation revealed that irreplaceable personal belongings were removed from her home days before the fire. The investigation, conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the Genesee County District Attorneys Office and the Genesee County Sheriffs Office, was the result of an Insurance Department visit to the upstate county in 2001 as part of the Governors "Capital for a Day" initiative. While in Batavia, the Department hosted a meeting with the Genesee County DAs Office to discuss combining resources to uncover insurance fraud. The Department presented an educational program on fraud to the DAs in Genesee and as a result fraud arrests and convictions, including the Walczak case, have followed. Sentencing is scheduled for January 2003.
- 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. A number of arrests have been made in WTC-related cases and the Bureau is investigating additional complaints. More arrests are anticipated.
- DJ CAUGHT
Arrested on 10/29/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Insurance Fund led to the arrest of a Sullivan County man who is charged with workers compensation fraud. The suspect claimed he was injured on the job and was unable to work. While he was receiving workers compensation benefits, he was discovered running a disc jockey service with his wife and doing tasks that were far more physically demanding than would have been possible with his alleged limitations.
- $200,000 RICHER
Arrested on 10/28/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 2nd degree, falsifying business records in the 1st degree and grand larceny in the 2nd degree
The defendant in this case was charged with collecting more than $200,000 in undeserved workers compensation benefits at the same time that he operated a business in Orange County that was listed in his wifes name. Following his arrest, the defendant confessed to investigators from the New York State Police. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the Workers Compensation Inspector Generals Office and the State Police.
- BOGUS INSURANCE POLICIES
Arrested on 10/28/02
Charged with forgery in the 2nd degree, criminal possession of a forged instrument, tampering with public records, falsifying business records and issuing false certificates
A joint undercover investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the NYPDs Fraudulent Accident Investigation Unit and the Bronx DAs Office led to the arrest of a Bronx man charged with the sale of fraudulent insurance policies. Evidence uncovered during the investigation revealed that the suspect sold false auto insurance identification cards on three occasions, giving the purchasers the false impression that they had insurance coverage.
- NO LOST WAGES
Arrested on 10/24/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, grand larceny in the 3rd degree and perjury in the 1st degree
The charges in this case alleged that, between June 2001 and June 2002, an upstate resident received more than $35,000 in no-fault lost-wage benefits as a result of injuries he sustained in an auto accident in May 2001. He reported to National Grange Insurance Company that he was unable to work as a result of the accident. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the New York State Police and National Grange revealed that the defendant continued to work and earn wages while collecting the lost-wage benefits. Moreover, on June 17, 2002, he gave fraudulent testimony concerning his employment status in connection with the no-fault claim.
- WIND AND WATER
Arrested on 10/24/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree, grand larceny in the 4th degree and possession of a forged instrument
In March 2002, the suspect in this case filed a claim with Travelers Insurance Company for wind damage to a building he owned in Niagara Falls. Travelers adjusters discovered that he had made a claim in 1999 for similar damage which he said was caused by water. The adjusters determined that the earlier wind damage had not been repaired. The suspect had been paid more than $1,900 by Travelers in 1999 after submitting a contractors receipt stating the repairs had been completed. However, when investigators contacted the contractor, he informed them that the "receipt" was only an estimate and no repairs had been performed. The Frauds Bureau and Travelers pooled resources in this investigation.
- ONE SUSPECT, TWO FRAUDS
Arrested on 10/23/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and fraudulent practices
A self-employed carpet installer from Clarkson, NY, was charged with falsely reporting the number of employees to Princeton Insurance Company, leading the insurer to charge him about $6,500 less in workers compensation premiums than was adequate for his actual work force for the period from November 1999 to November 2000. He also defrauded the State Insurance Fund of nearly $12,000 from October 1997 to November 1999 for a similar violation. The investigation that led to his arrest was conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the Monroe County Sheriffs Department, the State Insurance Fund and Princeton Insurance Company.
- NO COVERAGE
Arrested on 10/24/02
Charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree
As a result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, this suspect was accused of possessing two forged certificates of insurance and submitting them to a general contractor as proof of workers compensation and general liability insurance coverage when no such coverage existed.
- NO REPLACEMENT
Arrested on 10/22/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree, forgery in the 2nd degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree
In February 2002, a Queens, NY, man submitted a claim to Otsego Mutual Insurance Company for replacement of his detached garage that was damaged when he accidentally backed his car into it. The insurers adjuster determined that replacement would cost $4,400. In March, Otsego paid the defendant approximately half of the replacement cost, with the remainder to be paid when he submitted proof of replacement. Allegations in this case charged that the defendant forged three receipts for services he purportedly received in connection with replacement of the damaged garage and submitted them to Otsego to substantiate his claim. His arrest followed an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD.
- FORGED SIGNATURE
Arrested on 10/16/02
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree and insurance fraud in the 3rd and 5th degrees
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad led to the arrest of a Brooklyn paralegal on charges that, acting in concert with others not apprehended at the time, he defrauded Prudential Insurance Company by forging the signature of the payee on an insurance reimbursement check.
- NO FORCED ENTRY
Arrested on 10/11/02
Charged with insurance fraud, attempted grand larceny, falsely reporting an incident and making a punishable false statement
The defendant in this case reported to the police and to GEICO Insurance Company that her car had been stolen. The car was recovered several days later with no signs of forced entry, either in the doors or the ignition. The car had some broken glass but closer examination revealed that the breakage had occurred at the recovery scene. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD led to the arrest.
- DISABILITY FRAUD
Arrested on 10/9/02
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
A sweep by the Frauds Bureau and the Queens County DAs Office led to the arrest of a home health care attendant and the co-owner of a jewelry store. Both of these suspects maintained they were unable to work due to injuries. However, surveillance revealed that the home attendant continued to report to his job dressed in medical-type clothing. Moreover, the investigation turned up evidence that the second suspect was working at the jewelry store he co-owned. More arrests are expected in this ongoing investigation.
- INTO THE WOODS
Arrested on 10/4/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree
Following an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Delaware County Sheriffs Department, a health care worker was accused of filing a fraudulent auto-theft claim with Progressive Insurance Company in the amount of $24,700. However, he allegedly crashed his 2002 Jeep Liberty and abandoned it in the woods before reporting it stolen.
- THREE CONSPIRE
Arrested on 10/4/02
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, falsifying business records in the 1st degree and conspiracy in the 5th degree
The suspect in this case was charged with having a phony police accident report prepared, which he then submitted to North American Risk Insurance Company, together with a fraudulent application for no-fault benefits. Two additional suspects were arrested one on 10/2/02 and the second on 10/1/02 in connection with this investigation.
- UNDESERVED BENEFITS
Arrested on 10/2/02
Charged with insurance fraud and violation of Section 114 of the Workers Compensation Law
The defendant, a Bronx press operator, allegedly collected workers compensation benefits while he was employed. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau.
- BACK ON THE JOB
Arrested on 10/1/02
Charged with violation of Section 114 of the Workers Compensation Law
In January 2001, a Buffalo laborer began collecting workers compensation benefits from CNA Insurance Company following a job-related back injury. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau revealed that in August 2001, while still collecting benefits, the defendant began a new full time job. In May 2002, he filed a claim with Great American Insurance Company, again claiming a back injury. On numerous occasions thereafter he denied any history of workers compensation claims or previous back injuries. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Buffalo Police Department.
On September 11, 2002, Robert Ackerman Jr. was sentenced in Greece Town Court to one-year conditional discharge, 40 hours of community service and payment to Nationwide Insurance Company of $1,599 for costs related to the investigation that led to his arrest. Ackerman had previously pled guilty to insurance fraud in the 5th degree in satisfaction of all original charges. Ackerman reported on 6/17/01 that his 1977 Porsche had been stolen from his home. In fact, Ackerman drove the Porsche into a gorge prior to reporting it stolen. A surveillance camera photographed the car being driven in the area near the gorge the day before the reported theft.
- IN CAHOOTS
Arrested on 7/25/02
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPD resulted in the arrest of a Bronx man charged with participating in a staged accident. He allegedly filed a false insurance claim, resulting in fraudulent medical billing of more than $10,000. Three other men were arrested on 7/17/02 in connection with the same case.