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

ISSUED 04/13/2009FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TONAWANDA AUTO MECHANICS CHARGED IN INSURANCE FRAUD CASE

A Town of Tonawanda auto mechanic was arrested Wednesday on charges that he had another mechanic dismantle his 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck so he could file a $32,500 insurance claim.

Buffalo Police Auto Theft Unit Detective Gary Chwojdak and state police Investigator John Lubecki arrested Todd Coughlin, 27, of Glendale Drive, following their investigation with Ross McQuade of the New York State Insurance Departmentís Frauds Bureau.

Investigators said Coughlin admitted that he asked another mechanic to dispose of the pickup so he could get out of making loan payments for the vehicle and file an insurance claim with Allstate Insurance Company to cover the debt.

The second man, Derrick Lucas, 32, of Dupont Avenue, also in the Town of Tonawanda, was arrested in December. He is accused of dismantling the pickup truck and selling parts.

Coughlin is charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny, conspiracy and falsely reporting an incident. Lucas is charged with criminal possession of stolen property and unlawful possession of a vehicle identification number. Both men could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if convicted of the felony charges.

The two were released pending a hearing to be scheduled in Erie County Court. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Justin Wallance.

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