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Eric R. Dinallo   Superintendent of Insurance  25 Beaver Street  New York, N.Y. 10004

ISSUED 08/08/2008 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

FOUR ARRESTED FOR DUMPING CAR IN LAKE IN INSURANCE SCAM

An Erie County woman and three people who helped her dispose of her SUV by “making the vehicle disappear” into Lake Erie so she could collect on insurance now face charges of insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, the New York State Insurance Department reported.

The four are identified as Paula Parent, 44, of 4239 Greenfield Pkwy., Blasdell; Marc Poole, 34, of 4574 Seneca St., West Seneca; Derrick Smietana, 19, of 5319 Berg Rd., Orchard Park; and Jonathan Smietana, 18, of 144 Midshore Dr., Blasdell. Parent and Poole also face charges of attempted grand larceny.

The three were arrested after a joint investigation by Insurance Department Frauds Bureau Investigator David A. Hahn, Detective Gary Chwojdak of the Buffalo Police Auto Theft Squad, and New York State Police Investigator Eldred Green.

According to Hahn, Parent admitted she recruited Poole to help her dispose of her leased 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer so she could buy a less costly vehicle with better gas mileage. Hahn said Poole then recruited the two Smietanas, who are cousins, to help him.

The Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team found the vehicle submerged in Lake Erie on July 9, less than a month after Poole reported the vehicle stolen from her place of employment. The vehicle was found with its keys in the ignition and a rock attached to the gas pedal.

If convicted, the four could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Following their arraignments in Buffalo City Court, they were released in their own recognizance pending a future court date. The case is being prosecuted by Erie County Assistant District Attorney Justin Wallace.

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