Arrests for May 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 5/22/03, Mark Marrelli was sentenced to three years probation in Erie County Court; Michael McGuire was sentenced to three years probation on 5/9/03; and Glen Marrelli was sentenced to five years probation on 5/5/03. All three pled guilty to arson. McGuire hired Mark Marrelli to have his car torched so he could collect an insurance settlement. Mark Marrelli drove McGuire s car to a location in Buffalo and, with the help of his uncle, Glen Marrelli, set the car on fire. McGuire then filed a claim with State Farm Insurance Company for $15,562. However, witnesses saw Glen Marrellis car leaving the scene and gave the license plate number to Buffalo Fire Investigators. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Buffalo Police Department and State Farms SIU led to the arrests in this case.
- Dierdre Wolberg, the co-owner of State Opticians in Albany, was sentenced on 5/15/03 to six months of house arrest and five years felony probation for defrauding Capital District Physicians Health Plan. Prior to sentencing, Wolberg reimbursed CDPHP a total of $37,000 she received in settlement of hundreds of fraudulent claims. In addition, she risks review and possible loss of her opticians license. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Albany County DAs Office uncovered evidence that State Opticians sent 832 claims to CDPHP with the forged signature of a doctor who had died. State Opticians backdated the claims to coincide with the period when the doctor worked for the company and had a contract with CDPHP. The investigation also led to the arrest of a former billing clerk for State Opticians on 4/8/03 for her participation in the scheme. That case is pending.
- Leonard Krouner, Esq., of Loudonville, NY, was sentenced on 5/12/03 to six months in Albany County jail, five years probation and 1,000 hours of community service in connection with his role in defrauding three insurers of more than $97,000. Krouner pled guilty on 2/20/03 to insurance fraud, grand larceny and workers compensation fraud. As part of his plea, he surrendered his law license in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C. and resigned from his post as a Hearing Officer with the State Board of Education. Additionally, he made restitution of $97,221.74 to the three insurers involved in the fraud UNUM Provident, CNA and Combined Life of New York.
- A West Islip body shop owner, Brian Soltan, was sentenced in Suffolk County Court on 5/12/03 to two-to-six years in prison for enterprise corruption, insurance fraud, grand larceny, criminal mischief, attempted grand larceny and conspiracy. The sentence came more than 18 months after Soltan was charged and is the latest development in an ongoing investigation that the Frauds Bureau has been conducting with the Suffolk County DAs Rackets Bureau that has netted more than 200 criminal charges against numerous defendants and Long Island businesses. The investigation revealed that insurers were billed for damages from accidents that never happened or were exaggerated. A Frauds Bureau investigator worked in the undercover operation that led to Soltans arrest.
- Eric Parsons was sentenced on 5/6/03 in Seneca County Court to two 25 years-to-life terms in prison. Parsons was found guilty on 3/19/03 of five counts of arson in the 1st degree and five counts of murder in the 2nd degree. Parsons was arrested on 11/28/02 for setting fire to his home in which his wife and four children died. The Frauds Bureau was asked to participate in a Task Force established to investigate the case. The Task Force also included the New York State Police Violent Crime Investigation Team, the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department, the Seneca County DA’s Office, the Seneca County Fire Investigation Team, and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control Arson Unit. Extensive teamwork was credited with building a solid case. At the trial, the defense called an arson expert to try to refute New York State fire investigators about the cause of the fire in an effort to cause doubt in the minds of the jurors. Investigators from the Frauds Bureau and the State Police were asked to conduct an extensive examination of the expert’s resume and spent a week reviewing every facet of his education, training and experience. They uncovered evidence to show that virtually every statement in his resume was fabricated. They obtained certified letters from two colleges stating that the degrees in chemistry he claimed to have received were never received at those colleges. In fact, he took only a few courses at each of the colleges – including badminton and square dancing – and did not earn a degree at either. In addition, the professional organizations of which he claimed to be a member had no record of his membership. Together, the Task Force put in thousands of hours of investigative work and assisted the District Attorney in preparing for cross-examination of the expert witness. The prosecution used the evidence gathered in the investigation to destroy his credibility on the stand and he subsequently admitted that he had "embellished" his resume.
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 Insurance Department has actively coordinated with other law enforcement agencies to make certain that a strong line of communication exists among all agencies involved in this issue. Because there is a crossover between insurance fraud and charity fraud in some instances, that link has proven invaluable in that it fosters the exchange of information that can be critical to an investigation. The Bureau has tracked more than 65 suspected fraudulent WTC-related claims thus far and a number of arrests have been made.
Arrested on 5/29/03
Charged with conspiracy in the 4th degree, scheme to defraud in the 1st degree, grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records
Three members of a fraud ring based in the Bronx were arrested on charges that they submitted at least 14 property damage claims to insurers for motorcycle accidents that never occurred. The insurers involved paid out more than $85,000 on the phony claims. One of the defendants, the registered owner of one of the motorcycles used in the scam, recruited individuals to file claims with their insurers stating that their autos were involved in accidents with motorcycles. Another defendant is the registered owner of a motorcycle that was used in four bogus accidents. The third defendant is the owner of an auto repair shop where most of the motorcycles were examined by insurance company appraisers. These arrests are the result of a long-term investigation being conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the Attorney Generals Office in which nine other defendants were previously charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and related crimes. Those cases are still pending.
WAS HE ON DRUGS?
Arrested on 5/28/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Onondaga Sheriffs Department and the Onondaga County DAs Office led to the arrest of a New York State Department of Health narcotics investigator who is charged with submitting fraudulent property claims in two separate incidents. The defendant filed a claim with Madison Mutual Insurance Company for windstorm damage to a property he owned in Syracuse. The insurer issued an emergency repair check for $3,601.64. However, the investigation revealed that all the damage to the property existed prior to the storm. In a second incident, the defendant submitted a claim to Allstate Insurance Company for damage resulting from a flooded basement at his sisters home in Utica that included $4,000 in fraudulent receipts for items that either were not in the basement or were undamaged.
Arrested on 5/21/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, falsifying business records in the 1st degree and workers compensation fraud
From February 1998 through March 2003, the suspect in this case received more than $21,000 in disability benefits. However, an investigation revealed that he was working full time during the entire period. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the New York State Police.
- WORKERS COMP ARREST SWEEP
Arrested on 5/20/03
Charged with insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud and related crimes
The Frauds Bureau, the Nassau County DAs Office, the State Insurance Fund and the Office of the Workers Compensation Board Inspector General conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of six individuals for the theft of thousands of dollars from the States workers compensation system. In the largest single theft, a registered nurse was accused of fraudulently collecting over $42,000 in benefits. Her benefits began following a job-related injury in November 1993. However, the investigation revealed that she returned to work at a Mineola hospital in April 2000 and earned $57,000 over the next 14 months. She also worked at three other hospitals between 1998 and 2002. Others arrested included a construction worker, the manager of a McDonalds and yet another registered nurse.
Arrested on 5/19/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
The defendant in this case reported to police that her 2002 Nissan Sentra was broken into while parked unattended in Utica. She filed a claim with State Farm Insurance Company that included a $1,404 receipt for stereo equipment she said was stolen. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the New York State Police uncovered evidence that the true value of the stereo equipment was $300.
Arrested on 5/16/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
While employed by an insurance agency, the suspect allegedly obtained information from the agencys computer in connection with a prior claim for a ring. She then fabricated her own claim, inflating the appraisal value to $42,000, and filed the claim with Chubb Insurance Company. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Westchester County DAs Office led to her arrest.
Arrested on 5/8/03
Charged with arson in the 3rd degree and insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
A Binghamton man was accused of setting his home on fire and attempting to collect payment from the Erie Insurance Company for well-drilling tools destroyed by the fire. He was arrested on a warrant in Gibson, PA by the Pennsylvania State Police. Following extradition on May 12, he was charged in Broome County, NY. Assisting the Frauds Bureau in this investigation were the Pennsylvania State Police, the Broome County Sheriffs Office and the Broome County Bureau of Fire Investigations.
Arrested on 5/7/03
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPDs Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad led to the arrest of this defendant and one other arrested on 5/2/03. Both were accused of allowing their names to appear on a fraudulent police accident report in an effort to collect medical benefits from Nationwide Insurance Company under the no-fault portion of their auto insurance coverage.
- ITS THE BOYFRIEND
Arrested on 5/7/03
Charged with attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree and insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
A hospital secretary reported to Progressive Insurance Company that she was the driver of her Ford Explorer when it was involved in an accident, causing $5,348 in damages. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the New York State Police and Progressives SIU revealed that her boyfriend was driving the car, with her permission, at the time of the accident. He was also arrested for lying to the State Police about the incident.
BROOKLYN BY WAY OF CONNECTICUT
Arrested on 5/5/03
Charged with insurance fraud, criminal possession of a forged instrument, forgery, identity theft and falsifying business records
The defendant in this case was accused of stealing the drivers license of a New York resident, using it to obtain a Connecticut drivers license, purchasing and registering a car in Connecticut and using the car to stage accidents in Brooklyn, all in the name of the original license owner.
GAMING THE SYSTEM
Arrested on 5/5/03
Charged with grand larceny in the 4th degree
In July 1999, a Buffalo man was injured while working as a cement finisher and filed for workers compensation benefits from Zurich Insurance Company. In April 2002, his doctor certified that he was able to return to work and he allegedly took a job as a cement finisher at another construction company. However, he did not notify Zurich and continued to collect $4,800 in benefits to which he was not entitled. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the New York State Police and the Erie County DAs Office led to his arrest.
Arrested on 5/5/03
Charged with grand larceny and insurance fraud
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPDs Auto Crime Division led to the arrest of a Queens resident for participating in staged accidents.
Arrested on 4/30/03
Charged with scheme to defraud in the 1st degree and grand larceny in the 2nd and 3rd degrees
A former insurance broker was charged with collecting $40,000 in premiums but failing to remit the money to an insurer. He allegedly defrauded 20 clients who thought they had secured auto insurance coverage at his brokerage in Brooklyn, but who subsequently had their policies cancelled for nonpayment of premium. His arrest followed an investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the Brooklyn DAs Rackets Bureau.
Arrested on 4/25/03
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, perjury in the 1st degree and violation of the Workers Compensation Law
Following an injury sustained in May 1999 at her job as a home health aide, this defendant filed for workers compensation benefits. During the period from July 2000 through July 2001, she underwent three independent medical examinations after which she stated she had not worked since her injury and was still unable to work. In May 2001, she testified under oath to that same information at a Workers Compensation Board hearing. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the State Insurance Fund and the Workers Compensation Inspector General revealed that she had three separate jobs during that time, the last one dating from January 2002 until the time of her arrest. As a result, she collected more than $8,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.