Arrests for December 2011
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 1-800-342-3736
Upstate resident Richard Brennan was sentenced on 12/7/11 to serve one year in jail following his guilty plea on 6/20/11 to arson in the 3rd degree. Brennan and Ruth Thomas were arrested on 5/5/11 and charged with arson and insurance fraud for intentionally setting fire to the mobile home they co-owned. They subsequently filed a claim with Foremost Insurance Company for the loss. Thomas was sentenced to five years’ probation on 10/7/11 for conspiracy in the case. The arrests were the result of an investigation conducted by the Insurance Frauds Bureau.
Five former employees of a Colonie, NY, firm that conned property owners, banks and lenders in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme are headed behind bars and together will owe $18,387,633 in restitution. They were sentenced on 12/5/11 in Albany County Court. The firm, Rivertown Investments, is now defunct. The defendants solicited homeowners in financial distress to sell their homes to Rivertown. The company leased the homes back to the homeowners for usually 18 months under promises of net equity to be held as down payments on the repurchase of the properties. But the homes were never sold back. Customers were evicted and clients who repurchased homes were forced to spend thousands of dollars beyond their initial agreements. Rivertown sales agents duped customers into believing the company would buy the homes while the firm actually hired straw buyers to apply for mortgages. The straw buyers would sign a "series agreement" or other documents to become members of Rivertown holding companies that received titles to the properties but never spent any money required under the deals. One of the suspects was a straw buyer on 16 properties. The five suspects, Geoffrey Goldman, former owner of Rivertown; Kevin Wheatley, former in-house counsel and executive vice president; Jonathan Goldman, former vice president; Jessica Peryea, former sales director; and Jordan Laccetti, former loan officer, were arrested on 10/6-7/10 on charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud and related crimes. In February 2008, the New York State Attorney General’s Office requested the assistance of the Insurance Frauds Bureau in the investigation that led to the arrests.
Seth Peyser, an upstate chiropractor, was convicted of criminal impersonation on 12/15/11 for impersonating Investigator Jaclyn Oreshan Desautels at an independent medical examination (IME). Peyser attended the exam and identified himself as “Jackie Oreshan, Insurance Fraud Investigator.” His intent was to influence the IME doctor’s determination as to whether his patient required surgery. During an investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau, Peyser confessed that he had misrepresented himself and signed a statement to that effect. The confession was subsequently being challenged in court proceedings. However, before the hearing began, Peyser pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $250.
Two women, one from Maryland and the other from Virginia, were arrested on 12/13/11 and pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to steal life insurance benefits from elderly clients. The Maryland defendant, an investment adviser, named her co-defendant as beneficiary to the life insurance policies of nine clients without their knowledge. Three of the nine have died, allowing the women to collect $393,440 which they shared. The remaining six victims have been informed about the scheme and have made appropriate changes to their policies. The financial adviser pleaded guilty to scheme to defraud and three counts of attempted grand larceny and faces a maximum prison sentence of 21 years. Her co-defendant pleaded guilty to scheme to defraud and faces a maximum sentence of 4 years. Each defendant paid $98,000 in restitution at the time of their plea. The Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Insurance Frauds Bureau.
- ARSON FIRE
Arrested on 12/28/11
Charged with insurance fraud in the 2nd degree, arson in the 3rd degree and animal cruelty
The suspect in this case submitted a $67,081 insurance claim to New York Central Mutual Insurance Company following an 8/15/11 fire at her home. The property was owned jointly by the suspect and her husband. However, an investigation by the Ontario County Fire Coordinator’s Office deemed the fire incendiary. Subsequently, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office located witnesses who stated that they saw the suspect leaving the residence before the fire was reported. The suspect’s husband had an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the fire which Sheriff’s investigators were able to confirm. At that point, the Sheriff’s Office contacted the Insurance Frauds Bureau for assistance. On 10/27/11, investigators from both agencies met with the suspect and during the interview, she admitted to being in the house prior to the fire. She reported locking up and leaving but could not account for her whereabouts thereafter. Investigators subsequently interviewed witnesses who reported that prior to the fire, the suspect stated she was having financial and marital problems and would be happy if the house burned down. On 12/22/11, the suspect was indicted by an Ontario County grand jury on charges of insurance fraud, arson and animal cruelty. This last charge was based on the fact that the suspect had locked her two dogs in the kitchen before leaving the house where they both died in the fire.
- FALSE INFORMATION SUBMITTED
Arrested on 12/28/11
Charged with grand larceny in the 2nd degree, falsifying business records in the 1st degree, insurance fraud in the 2nd degree and violation of Section 114.1 of the Workers’ Compensation Law
A Queens County business owner and his painting company were each accused of submitting false information to the State Insurance Fund during an audit regarding the company’s sales and payroll in an effort to avoid paying the Fund $76,009 in additional premium. An investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau and the Fund led to the arrests.
- DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION TASK FORCE
Arrested on 12/19/11
Charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Albany-based Drug Enforcement Administration Tactical Diversion Task Force resulted in the arrest of three suspects charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. The Insurance Frauds Bureau has been a member of the Task Force since February 2011. From 2/11 through 12/11, 47 arrests have resulted from the successful investigation of 18 cases. The Task Force investigates organized drug diversion schemes, “doctor shopping” and forgery of controlled substance prescriptions.
- SUSPECT FLEES SCENE
Arrested on 12/7/11
Charged with insurance fraud
A Queens woman reported to the NYPD and Allstate Insurance Company that her car had been stolen based on information given to her by her son. Specifically, her son informed her that while the car was in his possession with his mother’s consent, it was stolen from a parking lot. However, he was arrested when investigators learned that he had been involved in an accident while driving the car and fled the scene. An investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau and the NYPD’s Auto Crime Division led to the arrest in this case.
- CORRECTION OFFICER CAUGHT
Arrested on 12/6/11
Charged with offering a false instrument for filing and violation of Section 114 of the Workers’ Compensation Law
An upstate Correction Officer reported various line-of-duty injuries and began collecting benefits. During the benefit period, he reported that he was unable to perform his duties at the correctional facility to which he was assigned. However, an investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau and the State Insurance Fund uncovered evidence indicating that he was gainfully employed at the Utica Housing Authority while fraudulently collecting $10,540 in benefits.
- FRAUDULENT AFFIDAVIT
Arrested on 12/5/11
Charged with insurance fraud in the 3rd degree and attempted grand larceny in the 3rd degree
An investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau and the Niagara Falls Police Department resulted in the arrest of the suspect in this case. He reported that his car had been stolen, submitted an affidavit of theft to Allstate Insurance Company and filed a $4,300 claim for the loss. However, the investigation revealed that he had been involved in a personal injury accident while driving the car and fled the scene.
- VIDEOTAPED EVIDENCE
Arrested on 12/2/11
Charged with arson in the 2nd degree
A Monroe County man lost his business to a fire on 3/1/11 and filed a $125,000 claim with New York Central Mutual Insurance Company for the loss. However, an investigation by the Insurance Frauds Bureau, the Rochester Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives uncovered a videotape in the remains of the fire. The business owner’s nephew was operating the business while his uncle was out of the country and confirmed that all transactions were videotaped. He further stated that he had closed up the business as usual on the day of the fire. However, a laboratory investigation revealed that the tape had been erased following the fire. The lab was able to recreate the images on the tape which showed the nephew setting the fire prior to leaving the shop.
- PRIOR SUPPLEMENTS
- DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION TASK FORCE 2
Arrested on 11/15/11
Charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the 5th and 7th degrees
An investigation by the Albany-based Drug Enforcement Administration Tactical Diversion Task Force led to the arrest of two suspects on 11/15/11. The Insurance Frauds Bureau has been a member of the Task Force since February 2011 and has been involved in 18 investigations that have led to 47 arrests.