New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED: 9/04/2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REPAIR SHOP OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD
Rammed Telephone Polls, Struck Cars with Sledgehammer, and Conspired with Adjusters to Inflate Claims, Insurance Companies and New York’s Insurance Consumers Paid the Price

             Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio today announced a guilty plea in an insurance fraud case involving false and inflated claims submitted between 1995 and 1999.  John Biagini, Sr. of Utica faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines, and restitution to the victim insurance companies of up to $120,000.

             Biangini, age 49, entered a guilty plea before Chief United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr. to charges of conspiring to defraud various insurance companies through his automobile repair business.  In the plea, he admitted that he routinely caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to various automobile insurers for repairs purportedly performed by Johnnies Automotive, 1203 Catherine Street, Utica, New York.

             In some cases, all of the damage to an automobile was intentionally inflicted by the Defendant or his employees by staging an accident or vandalism in order to generate a fraudulent claim for the repair of the damage created.  The damage to an automobile was often intentionally enhanced by the Defendant or his employees, acting at his behest, in order to inflate the amount of the claim for repairs. In many cases, the Defendant falsely claimed that Johnnies Automotive performed repairs that were not, in fact, done or supplied new parts that were not, in fact, used in making repairs.

             "This type of scheme defrauds not only the insurance companies but contributes – along with others types of insurance fraud – to higher premiums for all automobile owners," said Serio.  "This guilty plea, proves that the Department, with the assistance of local and state prosecutors, will not permit dishonest people to continue to take money out of the pockets of every consumer who plays the game fairly.  Our commitment to arresting and prosecuting those individuals who evade the law remains steadfast and we will continue our fight to eliminate the crime of insurance fraud."

             This case resulted from an investigation conducted by the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau, the New York State Organized Crime Task Force, the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States was represented in this matter the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Baxter.

             New York is aggressive in its fight against insurance fraud.  To report suspected incidents of insurance fraud call us toll-free at 1-888-FRAUD-NY (1-888-372-8369) or fax us at 212-480-7148.  Insurance companies paying claims filed by Johnnies Automobile of Utica are encouraged to contact the Department for further information on the case.


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