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James J. Wrynn    Superintendent of Insurance    25 Beaver Street  New York, N.Y. 10004

ISSUED 2/25/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SCHOHARIE COUNTY WOMAN ACCUSED OF BURNING CAR

A Schoharie County woman accused of fraudulently reporting that her car had been stolen, wrecked and burned was arrested Tuesday following an investigation by the New York State Insurance Department.

Charlene L. Papas, 39, of Leroy Road, Gilboa, is accused of making the false report so she could file an insurance claim after she fell behind in loan payments for her 2005 Ford Taurus, which was having mechanical problems.

Erie Insurance Company paid off Papas’s loan for the car, which was valued at approximately $10,000.

Later, investigators from the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau discovered that the car had never been stolen and that Papas intentionally burned the vehicle.

Papas was arraigned in Village of Cobleskill Court and remanded to Schoharie County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 bail. She was charged with third degree insurance fraud and third degree arson, both felonies, and could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted. A hearing will be scheduled in Schoharie County Court.

The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney James Sackett. The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control – Arson Bureau and the New York State Police assisted the Insurance Department’s Frauds Bureau in the investigation.

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