Arrests for January 2008
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 1/11/08, John Ortolani, a former sales representative for an upstate printing company, was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service while serving five years of court-supervised probation, following his September 2007 guilty plea to felony insurance fraud. He secured the sales rep job by falsifying his own business dealings with the Walt Disney Company. For almost a year, he provided his employer with copies of e-mail and invoices for $1 million purportedly for Disney business, but no business materialized. His employer threatened to let him go if he didn't produce the Disney business. Shortly thereafter, the printing company was destroyed in a fire and the "lost" Disney business became part of the insurance claim. An investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau, the Erie County DA's Office, the Lancaster Police Department and Hartford Insurance Company's SIU revealed that there was never any Disney connection. Ortolani used his personal computer to generate e-mail and invoices that appeared to be from the Disney Company in an effort to collect advances on commissions for the Disney business and to save his job. The fire extended his employment for an additional year. Ortolani pleaded guilty on 9/19/07 to a felony insurance fraud charge related to the fire which is still under investigation. Ortolani has never been a suspect in the fire.
Michael Boles, a former Nationwide Insurance Company adjuster, pleaded guilty on 1/8/08 to one count of insurance fraud in the 5th degree for his role in an auto insurance scam. In return for his plea, he surrendered his adjuster license and was sentenced to three years probation. The Frauds Bureau and the Suffolk County DA's Insurance Crime Bureau initiated an investigation in 10/06 after receiving a tip from an informant that the suspect was taking money from a body shop owner to submit inflated insurance estimates to Nationwide. Pretext policies and sting vehicles were obtained to set up three sting operations using a cooperating body shop. In each case, investigators conducted surveillance and audio/video recorded the fraudulent transactions. The recordings provided evidence that the adjuster accepted money from the shop owner to enhance damage estimates. Boles was arrested in March 2007 on charges of insurance fraud.
Thomas W. Boyde IV, the operator of an upstate escort service, was sentenced on 1/8/08 to serve five-to-ten years in prison following his guilty plea to two counts of insurance fraud. Boyde and three accomplices were arrested on 10/23/07. He admitted to using a group of his escorts to drive U-Haul rental trucks into his vehicles, netting him more than $50,000 in fraudulent insurance claims from Republic Western Insurance Company, U-Haul's insurer. The cases against Boyde's three female co-defendants are pending. The investigation that led to the arrests was conducted by the Monroe County Auto Crimes Task Force. Members of the Task Force include the Frauds Bureau, the Monroe County DA's and Sheriff's Offices, the State Police Auto Theft Unit, the Rochester Police Department's Auto Theft Unit and the DMV's Criminal Investigation Unit.
- NO BENEFITS DUE
Arrested on 1/23/08
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and grand larceny in the 3rd degree
The defendant in this case was involved in an auto accident on 7/4/05 and filed for lost wage benefits with Travelers Insurance Company. She collected benefits from that date until 3/21/06 when she was cleared to return to work. She took a job at a local church but was terminated by her employer on 7/21/06 for the theft of $7,000. She was never arrested for the crime and agreed to make restitution. On 7/24/06, the defendant requested that Travelers reopen her prior claim and she subsequently again began to collect lost wage benefits. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau, the Buffalo Police Department and Travelers revealed that she did not inform Travelers that she had been terminated by the church. As a result, she collected $10,988 between 7/24/06 through 5/16/07 which travelers would not have paid out had they been aware of the circumstances of her unemployment.
- NO DOC
Arrested on 1/21/08
Chargedwith offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree and insurance fraud in the 4th degree
A New York State Correction Officer submitted a doctor’s report to his employer stating that he was medically excused from work from 2/16/07 to 3/5/07 due to a work-related injury he had previously sustained. However, an investigation conducted by the Frauds Bureau and the State Insurance Fund turned up evidence that the document submitted by the suspect was fraudulent. The doctor in question never examined the suspect nor did he provide a medical report excusing the suspect from his job.
- IN CAHOOTS
Arrested on 1/18/08
Chargedwith perjury in the 1st degree, insurance fraud in the 4th degree and violation of Section 96.00 of the Workers’ Compensation Law
The owner of a real estate business in Ithaca was arrested for giving false information at a workers’ compensation hearing regarding the employment of a secretary in his office. The secretary was awarded permanent partial disability benefits in 2000 for an injury that occurred in 1993. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau revealed that she actually returned to work shortly after her injury, while claiming to the State Insurance Fund that she was unable to work. In addition, both the business owner and the secretary gave testimony under oath at a workers’ compensation hearing that no employer/employee relationship existed. Evidence showed that she collected nearly $6,300 in workers’ compensation benefits to which she was not entitled. She was arrested on 12/12/07 on charges of perjury in the 1st degree, insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and violation of Section 114 of the Workers’ Compensation Law. Further investigation revealed that the business owner failed to identify the secretary as an employee on an application for insurance with the State Fund. Interviews conducted produced statements by clients of the real estate firm that the secretary did in fact work for the firm, performing such tasks as collecting rents and scheduling maintenance work. The business owner was arrested on 1/18/08 for his participation in the scheme.
- STING OPERATION
Arrested on 1/16/08
Chargedwith grand larceny, falsifying business records, insurance fraud and illegal possession of a vehicle identification number and plates
A 16-month undercover investigation, dubbed “Operation Disappearing Act,” ended with charges brought against 61 suspects in at least four states – New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania – and the seizure of 70 vehicles worth $1.7 million. Among the 61 suspects charged were a New York City police officer, a director of security at a city hospital and an employee of the Homeland Security Department. Owners paid a middleman to take their cars to a garage in Queens where they purportedly were stripped for parts. Neither the car owners nor the middlemen were aware that the garage was run by NYPD detectives working undercover. The middlemen returned the keys to the owners who then reported their cars stolen and filed fraudulent claims for the insurance payout. Ten of the suspects were not in custody as of 1/17/08. However, six were subsequently arrested and 15 additional vehicles were recovered. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Frauds Bureau, the NYPD’s Auto Crime Division and the Queens DA’s Office.
- HIDDEN IN A BARN
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
In January 2007, an upstate man reported to the Rochester Police Department that his leased 2003 Nissan Murano had been stolen from his father’s house where he had parked it before leaving town for a week. When he returned, his car was gone and his father could not account for its whereabouts. Progressive Insurance Company subsequently paid the lien holder $22,463 for the loss. However, in November 2007, the State Police received a tip about a possible stolen car being hidden in a barn several counties away. The car turned out to be the Nissan Murano reported stolen 11 months earlier in Rochester. The owner of the barn had tried to conceal the identity with spray paint and was in the process of dismantling the vehicle. During questioning, he stated that the owner of a nearby auto repair shop had given him the car to be rid of it. The repair shop owner told investigators that in January 2007, the father of the car’s lessee, who was a friend, had asked to leave the car at the shop “for two weeks.” But he never returned to reclaim the car despite repeated phone calls to him. The vehicle was recovered and the father was arrested. However, the Frauds Bureau, the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Auto Theft Unit and Progressive’s SIU are continuing this investigation and more arrests are expected.
- ALTERED RECEIPT
Arrested on 1/16/08
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 5th degree
An upstate dental assistant filed a claim with her insurer reporting that her garage had been burglarized on 6/2/07 and that several items were stolen, including a garden tractor. In support of the claim, she submitted a receipt in the amount of $2,500 for the purchase of the tractor. However, an investigation by the Frauds Bureau uncovered evidence that the suspect had altered the receipt to conceal the fact that the tractor actually cost $1,500. The suspect voluntarily signed a confession on 1/8/08 and surrendered to the State Police on 1/16/08.
- LIGHTNING STRIKES
Arrested on 12/17/08
Chargedwith insurance fraud in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Frauds Bureau resulted in the arrest of an upstate couple accused of filing a fraudulent homeowners claim with New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company. The couple experienced a lightning strike at their home and in filing the claim they allegedly inflated the number of items that were damaged and/or the value of those items.