Arrests for February 2003
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 2/4/03, Victoria Walczak of Warsaw, NY was sentenced in Genesee County Court to a term of two-to-six years in prison for arson. In addition, Walczak was ordered to pay $32,943 in restitution to Country Way and United Frontier Insurance Companies. She was arrested and pled guilty on 10/18/02 to arson, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. Walczak admitted that on June 25, 2000 she set her half of a duplex home on fire while five occupants slept in the other half. Everyone escaped the fire unharmed. The investigation, conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the Genesee County DAs Office and the Genesee County Sheriffs Office, revealed that Walczaks belongings were removed just days before the fire. Walczak shared the duplex with her boyfriend, who was arrested and charged in two unrelated fraud charges. His case is still pending.
- Anthony Allen of Rochester, NY, was sentenced on 2/3/03 in Monroe County Court to a term of two-to-four years in prison and $2,500 in restitution to State Farm Insurance Company following his guilty plea on 11/6/02. Allen was arrested in May 2002 on charges that he filed a claim with State Farm for the theft of a one-carat diamond ring valued at $5,000. To support his claim, Allen submitted a receipt dated 6/3/99 for the purchase of the ring and was paid his policy limit of $2,500. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the New York State Police revealed that the jewelry store where he purportedly bought the ring had gone out of business in 1991.
- On 2/25/03, Isaias R. Soto pled guilty in Monroe Count Court to insurance fraud in the 4th degree. A joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau and State Farm Insurance Companys Special Investigations Unit, with the assistance of the Rochester Fire Department and the DMVs Criminal Investigation Division, led to his arrest on 11/25/02. When Soto was notified by the Rochester Fire Department that his van was found on fire on a Rochester street, he claimed the van contained electronic equipment and had been stolen from his driveway. He subsequently filed a claim for the loss with State Farm, including fraudulent receipts in support of his claim totaling $13,020.
- Leonard Krouner, Esq., of Loudonville, NY, pled guilty on 2/20/03 to insurance fraud, grand larceny and workers compensation fraud in connection with his role in defrauding three insurers of more than $100,000. Krouner claimed to be unable to work because of a bad back. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Albany County DAs Office and UNUM Provident Corporations Special Investigations Unit uncovered evidence that Krouner had an active private law practice and was also a Hearing Officer with the State Board of Education. Under an agreement reached beforehand, Krouner resigned from the Bar Association and was removed from the Board of Educations list of Special Hearing Officers. He also provided full restitution to the insurers (Unum Provident - $96,000; CNA - $3,000; and Combined Life of New York - $1,575). At his sentencing scheduled for May 17, 2003, he will be required to surrender his law licenses from New York, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 2nd degree and arson in the 2nd degree
The Frauds Bureau was asked by the Broome County Arson Task Force (of which we are a member) to assist in an investigation of a bakeshop owner in Deposit, NY, suspected of arson. The fire originated in the bakeshop and spread throughout the larger structure, which included occupied apartments. National Grange Insurance Company is the carrier with a $520,000 exposure. The suspect was scheduled to appear at the Broome County Sheriffs Office for an interview on 2/27/03 but his attorney advised against it. Investigators from the Frauds Bureau and the Broome County Arson Task Force obtained a warrant and executed the arrest.
DRIVING A BARGAIN
Arrested on 2/27/03Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree
An upstate woman reported to the Schenectady Police Department that her car was stolen from outside her home on 4/20/02. She subsequently filed a claim with State Farm to recoup the value of the car about $1,500. An investigation revealed that she in fact loaned the car to her roommate who in turn gave it to an unidentified man in exchange for drugs. The defendant eventually submitted a voluntary written confession that the car was never stolen.
- BUT WHO WAS REALLY DRIVING?
Arrested on 2/26/03Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
At about 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, 1/11/03, a 1998 Ford Expedition owned by the defendant in this case was involved in an accident in the City of Niagara Falls. The Expedition struck and damaged a parked car and fled the scene. The driver was never identified. On Monday, 1/13/03, the defendant reported that he had noticed his car missing from his driveway sometime on Friday, 1/10/03. He subsequently received a check from Erie Insurance Company for $5,000 in settlement of his theft claim. However, he later admitted that his car had not been stolen but that he had lent it to someone who allegedly was in possession of the car at the time of the accident. The investigation was conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the Niagara Falls Police Department.
Arrested on 2/25/03Charged with forgery in the 2nd degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree
In an attempt to fraudulently obtain disability benefits, this defendant forged the name of her employer on a Notice and Proof of Claim for Disability Benefits. Her arrest followed an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the State Insurance Fund and the Colonie Police Department.
Arrested on 2/24/03Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and workers compensation fraud
Following a work-related back injury sustained on 6/8/00, this suspect began receiving workers compensation benefits from OneBeacon Insurance Company. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Workers Compensation Inspector Generals Office, the Schenectady Police Department and the insurers Special Investigations Unit revealed that she was working as a private duty nurse and being paid in cash. At a Workers Compensation Board Hearing held on 6/21/02, she admitted as much.
Arrested on 2/20/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4 th degree and grand larceny in the 4th degree
A former insurance agent was arrested on charges that he collected $1,218 from the director of the Town of Pendleton Youth Baseball League for a sports accident policy for the period 3/1/02 to 3/1/03. However, when the League requested proof of insurance from Nationwide Insurance Company in August 2002, they were advised that no coverage existed. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Niagara County DAs Office and the North Tonawanda Police Department revealed that the agent failed to forward the premium to the insurer but instead put the funds to his own use.
WHAT LOST WAGES?
Arrested on 2/19/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 5th degree and perjury in the 3rd degree
The defendant in this case was injured in an auto accident in June 2002. She subsequently filed for lost wage benefits under her no-fault coverage with Progressive Insurance Company. At an examination under oath on September 10, 2002, she testified that she had not worked at all since the accident and was receiving $200 a week in benefits. Progressive hired a private investigator who photographed her on September 9, 2002 bartending in the bar she owned. She was arrested by the Depew Police Department on a warrant obtained by the Frauds Bureau.
Arrested on 2/13/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, grand larceny in the 3rd degree, workers compensation fraud and offering a false instrument for filing
Following an injury sustained on the job in February 2001, this suspect claimed he was disabled and filed for workers compensation benefits. However, surveillance conducted over a period of time showed him participating in various activities, such as roof work and playing basketball, without any indication of a disability. The investigation revealed that from May through September 2002, he collected more than $7,000 to which he was not entitled. He was issued an appearance ticket to appear in the Town of Colonie Local Criminal Court on 12/18/02. When he failed to appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest. The investigation was conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the State Police and the State Insurance Fund.
Arrested on 2/12/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
A Syracuse area woman reported that her S.U.V. overturned after she hit a deer on 12/23/02. She received a claim settlement of $13,211 from Travelers Insurance Company. However, an investigation revealed that her vehicle had overturned but the accident did not involve a deer. Apparently, when her insurance agent informed her that the accident would not be covered because she did not have collision coverage, she allegedly placed deer hair on the vehicle in an attempt to have the accident covered under her comprehensive coverage. When confronted, the defendant confessed to the State Police who conducted the investigation with the Frauds Bureau.
WHOS THE VANDAL?
Arrested on 2/7/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
The defendant in this case reported to the Fredonia Police Department and to State Farm Insurance Company that his 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix had been vandalized while parked in his driveway and that expensive stereo equipment was stolen. He filed a claim and received a settlement of $4,300 for the damage to his car and the lost property. However, the defendant later admitted to the Fredonia Police that he caused the damage to the car himself and lied about the stolen property in order to get an insurance settlement. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Fredonia Police Department.
THE FRAUD CONNECTION
Arrested on 2/5/93
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau led to the arrest of a Worcester, NY, man accused of filing a fraudulent claim with Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company for $7,500 after he was involved in an accident, abandoned the car and reported it stolen. His girlfriend, the owner of the car, was arrested on 1/31/03 for her role in filing the fraudulent claim.
PUT A SPIN ON IT
Arrested on 2/5/03
Charged with falsifying business records in the 2nd degree, insurance fraud in the 5th degree and workers compensation fraud
The combined efforts of the Frauds Bureau and the Onondaga County DAs Office resulted in the arrest of a maintenance worker who was charged with fraudulently collecting workers compensation benefits. Following a work-related injury on 5/13/02, the suspect claimed to be unable to work and filed for workers compensation benefits. The investigation revealed that he was a self-employed disc jockey and fraudulently collected $4,167 in benefits from the time of his accident until his arrest.
IN HARMS WAY
Arrested on 2/4/03
Charged with insurance fraud, arson in the 3rd degree, grand larceny, assault and reckless endangerment
An upstate man was charged with setting fire to a vacant house in Watervliet, NY, in an attempt to collect an insurance settlement. His ex-girlfriend, who is cooperating in the investigation, led the police to the suspect. Two firefighters, unaware that the house was vacant, were inside when the floor gave out. They escaped the burning building with the help of other firefighters.
Arrested on 2/3/03
Charged with insurance fraud, offering a false instrument for filing, perjury and committing a fraudulent practice under the Workers Compensation Law
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Insurance Fund led to the arrest of an upstate resident for workers compensation and insurance fraud. Claiming that a work-related back injury rendered him unable to work, the defendant filed a claim for lost wage benefits. To support his claim, he allegedly submitted false sworn statements to the State Insurance Fund on two occasions and provided materially false sworn testimony in support of these statements at a Workers Compensation Board Hearing. However, investigators received an anonymous tip that the defendant was working as cab driver in his hometown. Further investigation uncovered evidence to support the allegation.
Arrested on 1/30/03
Charged with insurance fraud
A New Rochelle resident was charged with fraudulently reporting to the local police department and his insurer that his car was stolen from the street on which he had parked it on 1/16/03. An investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the New Rochelle Police Department revealed that the car had been abandoned in Elizabeth, NJ, where it was recovered by the Elizabeth Police Department on 1/12/03. The suspect later admitted that he filed the fraudulent claim in an attempt to have his leasing agreement rescinded.
Arrested on 1/17/03
Charged with falsifying business records in the 1st degree and workers compensation fraud
In order to obtain permits required to operate a restaurant, the owner provided a fraudulent document as evidence of workers compensation coverage. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Putnam County DAs Office revealed that the document contained the number of a policy that had been cancelled for nonpayment of premium.