Arrests for February 2006
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 2/16/06, Lucas Felder of Geneva, NY, pled guilty to falsely reporting an incident in the 3rd degree. In December 2005, Felder was driving a company-owned truck without official approval when he collided in a shopping mall parking lot with another vehicle driven by a 20-year-old woman. Concerned that he might lose his job for unauthorized use of a company vehicle, Felder reported to the State Police that he was driving his own personal car at the time of the accident. Felder subsequently filed a claim with Progressive Insurance Company which determined that he had caused more than $2,000 in damages to the other vehicle. Evidence developed during the investigation by the State Police, the Frauds Bureau and Progressive revealed that the claim contained materially false information as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. Felder eventually admitted to investigators that his claim was fraudulent. This investigation is ongoing and may result in additional arrests.
Brooklyn resident Waurd Demolaire was found guilty on 2/16/06 of manslaughter in the 2nd degree and conspiracy in the 6th degree for his participation in a staged accident turned fatal. In March 2003, Demolaire targeted a 71-year-old Queens grandmother and intentionally drove his car into her car. She lost control and crashed into a tree resulting in her death. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 20. His arrest was the result of an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Queens DAs Office and the NYPDs Fraudulent Accident Investigations Squad.
Anthony Spinello of Rochester, NY, pled guilty on 2/6/06 in Monroe County Court to 14 felony counts, including grand larceny in the 2nd and 3rd degrees and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree. A joint investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the Rochester and Irondequoit Police Departments and Nationwide Insurance Company led to his arrest in August 2005. While acting in his capacity as a licensed insurance agent for Nationwide, Spinello misrepresented himself as two of his clients in order to implement changes of address so that all future correspondence from Nationwide would be sent to his own home address. Between July 2000 and July 2004, he systematically withdrew funds held in the individual retirement accounts and annuities of the two clients. The disbursement checks totaling more than $143,000 were sent in the clients names to his home and he and at least one other person (as yet not charged) forged the signatures of the clients and cashed the checks.
- FRAUDULENT BENEFITS
Arrested on 2/21/06
Charged with violation of the Workers Compensation Law
An unemployed Long Island man was arrested on charges that on two separate occasions, he certified to the State Insurance Fund that he was not working when in fact he was gainfully employed. As a result, he received nearly $10,000 in workers compensation benefits to which he was not entitled. The Frauds Bureau and the Staten Island DAs Office pooled resources in this investigation.
Arrested on 2/20/06
Charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd and 3rd degrees
The Frauds Bureau and the NYPDs Fraudulent Document Squad jointly conducted an investigation the resulted in the arrest of three suspects accused of criminal possession of a forged instrument, i.e., fraudulent Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles window stickers and counterfeit insurance identification cards.
Arrested on 2/17/06
Charged with arson, insurance fraud and witnessing tampering
An upstate farm owner was arrested for allegedly setting a fire that killed 24 cows at the farm, owned jointly with his father, on 4/20/03. He filed a claim with the Otsego County Patrons Co-Operative Fire Relief Association and was paid $143,555 for the loss. Based on a confidential tip, the Frauds Bureau and local law enforcement agencies in Cooperstown, NY, initiated an investigation that revealed the farm was in deep financial difficulty at the time of the fire, a situation that created a potential motive for the crime.
FAVOR FOR A FRIEND
Arrested on 2/17/06
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and falsifying business records in the 1st degree
On 11/19/05, the defendant in this case reported to Progressive Insurance Company that a number of items were stolen from his truck, including two ham radios, a CD player, a CB radio and two antennas, with a total value of $2,200. The defendant had no receipts to provide as proof of purchase. So he asked a friend who sells ham radio equipment to create a receipt for the purportedly stolen items and he submitted the bogus receipt to the insurer. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Police led to the friend and on 1/30/06, he admitted that he had prepared the fraudulent receipt as a favor. During an interview on 2/17/06, the suspect signed a confession stating that the items stolen from his truck, which did not include any of the items reported to his insurer, were worth only about $500.
- NO COVERAGE
Arrested on 2/9/06
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, grand larceny in the 3rd degree and violation of the Workers Compensation Law
Spurred by an anonymous report of suspected fraud, the Frauds Bureau initiated an investigation of the owner of a temporary employment agency in upstate New York. The report included a letter from the suspect to one of her clients dated 10/11/05 stating that workers compensation insurance coverage was in place for a temporary worker she had provided to the client. In addition, the letter stated that all benefits would be paid in the event of a work-related injury. However, evidence uncovered during the investigation indicated that in March 2004, the suspect entered into a contract with this client to provide temporary workers on a regular basis. The client agreed to pay an amount equal to the workers salary, plus 46% to cover workers compensation insurance and other work-related expenses. From that time until her arrest, the suspect collected more than $9,200 for insurance coverage that was never obtained. The 10/11/05 letter was apparently an attempt to hide the fact that the coverage for the worker required by law did not exist. The investigation also revealed that this suspect had been arrested on 9/9/05 on similar charges.
Arrested on 2/7/06
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd and 4th degrees
In August 2001, the defendant in this case was indicted by a Niagara County grand jury on charges that during the first half of 1998, he collected $5,000 in workers compensation benefits while employed. He fled New York State before he could be arrested. In December 2005, the Niagara County DAs Office informed the Frauds Bureau that the suspect had been picked up in Westmoreland County, PA, on the outstanding Niagara County warrant. The suspect would not waive extradition, claiming he was not the person for whom the warrant was issued, which meant that a New York State Governors warrant would be required for his return to New York. After reviewing the original indictment file, together with fingerprint cards and signatures supplied by Westmoreland County, the investigators determined there was a match. In addition, the social security number the suspect gave to the Westmoreland County DA was identical to that on a sworn statement the suspect gave at an earlier workers compensation hearing in New York. Based on this evidence, the Governors warrant was issued and a hearing in Pennsylvania determined he was the same person who was indicted in August 2001 in New York. The suspect surrendered himself to the Niagara County Sheriffs Department on 2/6/06 and was arraigned on 2/7/06.
Arrested on 2/2/06
Charged with insurance fraud
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPDs Fraudulent Accident Investigations Squad led to the arrest of a Bronx couple accused of participating in a no-fault fraud scheme. The suspects allegedly sought and received medical treatment for nonexistent injuries under the no-fault portion of their auto insurance coverage.
Arrested on 1/16/05
Charged with insurance fraud and falsifying business records
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the NYPDs Fraudulent Accident Investigations Squad led to the arrest of two suspects for their roles in a no-fault fraud plot. They were charged with falsifying a Police Accident Report and subsequently received medical treatment for nonexistent injuries under the no-fault portion of their auto insurance coverage.
Arrested on 1/10-11/06
Charged with insurance fraud, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing and various violations of the Workers Compensation Law
At a meeting with the Attorney Generals Office in the spring of 2005, the Frauds Bureau and members of the Workers Compensation Fraud Inspector Generals Office began to plan strategy for a workers compensation fraud sweep in upstate New York. That plan came to fruition with the arrest of 14 individuals in January 2006. Most of the arrests involved collecting benefits while gainfully employed. In one case, however, an employee sustained a work-related injury at a location that was not properly insured. The employer conspired with his employee to lie about how and when he was hurt, which constitutes premium fraud. In all, insurers paid out about $250,000 in unwarranted benefits, with $108,000 alone going to one suspect who was an elected official in the Town of Copake. The State Insurance Fund was also involved in the investigation that led to the arrests.