Arrests for January 2007
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 1/23/07, Candice Lambert, a special education teacher formerly with the Cohoes City School District and now a New Hampshire resident, was sentenced to up to three years in jail and ordered to pay $26,000 in restitution for stealing more than $20,000 in disability benefits. Lambert shaved her head and wore a scarf to make her colleagues believe she had lost her hair from chemotherapy treatments. She turned herself in to the Cohoes Police Department in April 2006 and pleaded guilty to 3rd degree grand larceny the following November. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the Cohoes Police Department led to her arrest.
Insurance agent Jeffrey J. Burton pleaded guilty on 1/25/07 to felony 1st degree falsifying business records for collecting auto insurance premiums from about 19 clients and failing to forward them to an insurer. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Fulton County DA's Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles began in the summer of 2005 after close to 40 clients complained to the DMV that their insurance had been cancelled for nonpayment of premiums in spite of the fact that they had made regular payments to the agent. A search warrant was executed by the Gloversville Police Department and he was arrested on 1/24/06. In October 2006, the Insurance Department revoked the licenses of Jeffrey Burton and the Burton Agency. He is expected to receive five years' probation and forfeit his right to conduct an insurance business at his sentencing in April. He will also be responsible for making restitution to all those clients who incurred expenses because of his actions.
- ARREST SWEEP NETS TEN
Arrested on 1/23-24/07
Charged with grand larceny in the 3rd and 4th degrees, falsifying business records in the 1st degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree and violation of Sections 114(1) and 96(1) of the Workers' Compensation Law
A seven-month joint investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Queens DA's Office, the State Insurance Fund and the Workers' Compensation Board Inspector General's Office resulted in the arrest of ten suspects in a workers' compensation fraud totaling more than $110,000. Most of the defendants were accused of collecting workers' compensation benefits while they were employed. In one instance, a former employee of the New York City Housing Authority began collecting benefits after he sustained a work-related injury in 1983. However, he failed to inform the Workers' Compensation Board that he took a job in the construction industry in 2003. During 2003 and 2004, he collected $19,365 to which he was not entitled. Another suspect in this case, an independent contractor, submitted a fraudulent Certificate of Insurance in order to obtain work installing floors. The Certificate falsely stated that he had workers' compensation insurance to cover his employees when, in fact, no such coverage existed.
Arrested on 1/23/07
Charged with insurance fraud, falsifying business records and conspiracy
A Brooklyn woman arrived at the scene of an accident and when the police arrived she told them that she had been driving one of the cars involved in the accident. She subsequently submitted a claim to Allstate Insurance Company for the loss. However, the driver of the other car and a school crossing guard at the scene gave statements that the defendant was not involved in the accident at all. The Frauds Bureau and the NYPD's Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad initiated an investigation that revealed that the defendant conspired with the actual driver to defraud Allstate. In fact, the driver had been convicted of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle on 2/22/06 and his license was suspended at the time of the accident. He is still being sought on charges in this case.
Arrested on 1/20/07
Charged with arson in the 3rd degree and conspiracy in the 4th degree
Three defendants in this case, while acting in concert, poured gasoline inside a 2006 Hyundai Sonata that belonged to one of them and set it on fire in an effort to collect an insurance payout. A fourth suspect is still being sought. The Frauds Bureau and the FDNY's Bureau of Fire Investigation combined efforts in the investigation that led to the arrests.
- STEAL AND BURN
Arrested on 1/17/07
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree, attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree and falsely reporting an incident in the 3rd degree
On 10/2/06, the Buffalo Police Department contacted the Frauds Bureau about a confidential informant who had come forward and admitted to stealing a 1998 Chrysler Town and Country Van. At the same time, he turned the car over to the police. He stated that suspect #1 in this case had offered him $100 to steal and burn the car which belonged to his uncle who is suspect #2. Investigators provided the confidential informant with a body wire. He then met with the two suspects and audio-taped a conversation in which they discussed the agreement for the confidential informant to steal and burn the car.
- DELIBERATE DAMAGE
Arrested on 1/16/07
Charged with insurance fraud in the 4th degree and attempted grand larceny in the 4th degree
On 2/21/06, the suspect in this case reported to GEICO Insurance Company that her car's transmission had been damaged when she struck an object in the road. She provided written statements to that effect in support of her $1,055 claim. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Rochester Police Department and GEICO's Special Investigations Unit uncovered evidence that the damage to the transmission had been deliberately caused with an air chisel.
- FRAUDULENT CLAIM
Arrested on 1/11/07
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree
A Sullivan County resident reported to Progressive Insurance Company that his 2004 Chevrolet Blazer had been stolen and he subsequently filed a $7,000 claim for the loss. The car was later found damaged in an isolated area of New Jersey. An investigation by the Frauds Bureau and the State Police turned up evidence that the suspect intentionally damaged his car and falsely reported it stolen in order to collect an insurance settlement.
- NOT A VICTIM
Arrested on 1/10/07
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 NYPD's Fraudulent Accident Investigation Squad led to the arrest of this defendant on charges that, while acting in concert with two other suspects previously arrested, he altered a Police Accident Report by falsely adding his name as an accident victim. He subsequently sought medical treatment for nonexistent injuries under his no-fault insurance coverage.
- NONEXISTENT INJURIES
Arrested on 1/1/07
Charged with insurance fraud
After being involved in an auto accident, two suspects conspired with a doctor that treated them to fabricate injuries. As a result, Liberty Insurance Company was billed more than $10,000 for treatment of nonexistent injuries. One of the suspects made a statement admitting to the fraud.
When the brother of Schellerina Murrell, a home health care worker, was shot and seriously wounded in June 2001, her co-worker, Esther LaFontaine, who was also an agent for Combined Life Insurance Company of New York, persuaded her to take out an accident and disability policy and name herself as beneficiary. LaFontaine backdated the application to a date prior to the shooting and the policy was issued. Murrell filed a claim with Combined Life and was paid a settlement of $15,500. The agent was arrested on 5/31 and her accomplice on 5/30. The Frauds Bureau, the State Police and Combined Life pooled resources in the investigation that led to the arrests. On 12/11/06, Murrell pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the 4th degree and LaFontaine pleaded guilty to falsifying business records in the 1st degree.