Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

Philadelphia Man Forges Custody Papers

June 9, 2014

June 4, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 42 year old Shawn Pickett with Forgery, Attempted Theft by Deception, Welfare Fraud, Tampering with Public Records/Information, False Statements and Tampering with Records/Identification for tampering with a court ordered custody agreement.

Pickett, of the 2800 block of W. Oxford Street, is accused of forging the custody agreement of his young teenage son. Pickett also tried to use the fraudulent custody agreement to change the Social Security and Department of Welfare benefits of his son, making Pickett the beneficiary of the benefits.

On December 11, 2013, the District Attorney’s Office was contacted by the Philadelphia Family Court after a forged document was discovered. This document, a purported order, appeared to have been signed by Judge Tama Myers Clark on September 2, 2013 and gave primary custody to Shawn Pickett of his 14 year old boy, and partial custody of the teen to his mother Tabitha Allen. After reviewing a copy of the order dated September 2, 2013, Judge Myers Clark confirmed that she did not sign this document nor did she give anyone permission or authorization to sign her name on her behalf. Tabitha Allen also confirmed that she did not sign this document nor did she give anyone permission or authorization to sign her name on her behalf.

Ms. Allen began to suspect something was wrong prior to December 11, 2013 when she went to the social security office to obtain printouts of her income. While at the social security office, she was informed by the front desk clerk that Ms. Allen was no longer listed as the payee for her son’s social security check due to a change in her son’s custody status. Allen immediately suspected foul play, because the custody status had not changed. Additionally, she was also contacted by the Department of Public Welfare and informed that her son’s benefits were switched to Shawn Pickett after it received an order giving him full custody. The Department of Welfare gave Ms. Allen a copy of the fraudulent order dated September 2, 2013, which she gave to the Philadelphia Family court.

Shawn Pickett was arrested on Tuesday night, June 3, 2013. He is currently being processed by police.

Dianah Gregory Enters Guilty Plea for 2013 Election Day Crime

May 29, 2014

On May 27, 2014: Today, the Honorable Michael Erdos sentenced 65 year old Dianah Gregory to 15 months of probation for the Election Code Violation of Tampering with a Voting Machine charge. She was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and perform 15 hours of community service.

On election day November 5, 2013, Gregory hand-wrote her name as a write in candidate for Committeemen on both voting machines at the polling place for the 28th Ward 1st Division located at 3100 Lehigh Ave. Gregory’s actions caused a delay in voting for over an hour. Voting could not resume until Officials from the County Board of Elections were able to clean the voting machines.

After a lengthy investigation by the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Unit Dianah Gregory was arrested on November 20, 2014. She entered on open guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of Tampering with a Voting Machine on May 27, 2014. ADA Peter Berson successfully prosecuted this c

Project “GO”

May 29, 2014

May 28, 2014: District Attorney Seth Williams announced today the Celebration of Attendance event to honor students for improved school attendance. The students recognized all attend schools participating in the District Attorney’s truancy prevention initiative, Project “GO.”

Project “GO” (as in “go” to school) is an early intervention and prevention program developed by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to hold parents and excessively truant elementary and middle school students accountable for truancy. The law requires all children to attend school every day until the age of 17 years. The participating schools notify the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office when a student has exceeded the number of unexcused absences agreed to as the limit for that school. Upon receiving this notice, a letter is sent from the District Attorney’s Office to the parents/guardians advising them of their responsibilities under Pennsylvania law. The parents and the children are required to attend a group meeting with the Assistant District Attorney, school staff, city agencies and community-based organizations. Parents are advised that continued attendance problems will not be tolerated and could result in court action against the parent and/or the child. At the same time, referrals are provided for parenting classes, counseling and other needed services.

If the letter and group meeting are not successful in improving attendance, the student and parent are invited to an individual meetingwith the Assistant District Attorney and school staff to discuss the child’s attendance problems. This meeting focuses on:

• Attendance problems
• Family issues/concerns
• School related issues/concerns
• The Assistant District Attorney reminds the parents of the possible legal consequences if the child does not attend school each and every day
• Both parents and children may be referred to appropriate agencies for necessary services
• Parents may also be required to sign a contract outlining the responsibilities of both the parent and child

If the individual meeting is not successful, the student and parent are referred to a final individual meeting with the Assistant District Attorney, school staff and other appropriate representatives. The message is reiterated for the final time.
Failure to improve thereafter will result in prosecution of the parent for Corruption of a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S. §6301(a)(2), a violation of the Public School Code, 24 P.S. §13-1333, and/or, in a particularly egregious case, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, 18 Pa.C.S. §4304. Similarly, a child 13 or older could be prosecuted for a violation of the Public School code (24 P.S. §13-1300, et seq); a child under 13 would be referred to the Department of Human Services as a dependent child.

“There is no denying the relationship between truancy, dropping out of school and the subsequent criminal involvement that happens as a result of dropping of out school,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I, therefore, believe in my heart of hearts that these truancy reduction efforts will ultimately decrease crime throughout the city.”

“Early intervention is key,” continued the District Attorney. “ To be successful, we must address school attendance problems as early as possible — before the child’s behavior is ingrained and while the parent still exercises some control. Only if all of the above steps fail, will cases be filed against the parent and/or the child. The goal of “GO” is to get children back in school. Court action and criminal sanctions, though available, are the least desirable alternative. As a testament to the effectiveness of early involvement by a prosecutor, we have not yet had to employ the ultimate sanction and no parent has been prosecuted since the inception of Project GO.”

The supervising prosecutor for Project “GO” is Dr. Rachel Pereira. She can be reached at 215-686-9909 or by email at rachel.pereira@phila.gov.

Gifts for the honorees were provided by Target and refreshments were provided by Brown’s Shoprite.

List of Schools with Nominations for Students Who Have Improved Attendance

Alliance for Progress Charter School
Belmont Charter School
Hardy Williams High Mastery Charter School
John B. Stetson Charter School
Mastery Charter School—Clymer
Mastery Charter School—Grover Cleveland
Mastery Charter School—Mann
Mastery Charter School—Smedley Elementary
Mastery Charter School—Thomas
Olney Charter School
Universal Audenreid Charter High School
Universal Bluford Charter School
Universal Creighton Charter School
Universal Vare Charter School
University Alcorn Elementary Charter School

41 Charged with Multi-Million Dollar Insurance Fraud Scam

May 28, 2014

May 28, 2014: District Attorney R. Seth Williams has charged Ronald Galati, Sr. and his co-conspirators for a nearly 5 (m) million dollar insurance fraud scheme. These charges are the result of a sixteen-month Grand Jury investigation of American Collision and Auto Center located at 1930 S. 20th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Grand Jury found that Galati and his confederates, which included a Philadelphia Police Officer, a city official, insurance company adjusters and tow truck drivers, engaged in an elaborate scam to defraud both insurance companies and Philadelphia taxpayers.
The investigation revealed that the Galati family used American Collision and Car One Rental as corrupt organizations from which to file fraudulent insurance claims for financial gain. During the past four years, victim insurance companies issued payments totaling over $2,311,288 in connection to fraudulent claims submitted from American Collision. The shop also received over 1.8 million dollars from the City of Philadelphia by fraudulently obtaining a contract with the Office of Fleet Management in February of 2011. Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz and Detective Robert DiFrancesco, both of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit, were assigned to this investigation in conjunction with Trooper Michael Romano of the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Organized Crime Division. Both Progressive and Erie Insurance Companies provided referrals and documentation which first brought American Collision’s suspicious claims to light.
American Collision established a pattern of filing fraudulent claims with insurance companies that would routinely fall into one of the following five scenarios: fictitious deer accidents, vandalism, vehicular damages due to falling objects, enhanced damages that compensated for waived deductibles and the use of luxury cars in staged collisions in order to generate large settlement checks. When crafting bogus accident claims, Galati favored deer hits, vandalism and vehicular damages from trajectory objects because each could be categorized as a non-fault accident for which the insured would not be held liable. In one particular situation, Galati coached a customer to report to his insurance company that he had struck a deer rather than admit that he had hit another car so that his insurer would assume responsibility without raising his rates. Multiple Grand Jury witnesses testified that Galati stored deer blood, hair and carcasses in the back of his shop. These deer remnants, along with weeds which American Collision employees were instructed to fetch from the Penrose Avenue river banks, served as props for what Galati deemed “Hollywood Photos,” or deceptive pictures of alleged vehicular damages which were submitted as part of insurance claims. In addition to deer hits, American Collision customers also filed claims alleging to have inadvertently collided with geese, dogs, cartons of fruit, flying metal and falling concrete.
Not only did Galati create imaginary accidents but he also deliberately staged collisions in order to generate business for his shop and to make money for his own personal benefit. Perhaps the most insidious of fraudulent claims filed at American Collision involved intentional vandalism orchestrated by Galati and conspirator tow truck drivers. Galati supplied local drivers with a list of vehicles owned by previous customers and would instruct the drivers to damage these cars in the early morning hours in order to create and secure business for his shop. Some clients were aware that the vandalism was deliberate, such as one cooperator who testified that he filed eleven fraudulent claims in conjunction with American Collision, nine of which were fabricated vandalism claims. In addition to vandalizing cars, Galati would also purchase luxury vehicles and pay his associates to deliberately crash cars into his parked BMW or Corvette. Galati discovered that financing these luxury vehicles through insurance fraud was an effective way to make car payments.
Galati achieved such success with filing fabricated claims due to his knack for designing creative accident scenarios and his network of rogue professionals who conspired with him to legitimize these claims. Galati enlisted the assistance of Philadelphia Police Officer Douglas DiEmidio, Erie Insurance Company adjuster Cheryl Stanton, Allstate Insurance Company adjuster Arthur Juliano, and local South Philadelphia tow truck drivers in order to substantiate his claims. Officer DiEmidio, who was stationed in the First District prior to his termination due to unrelated criminal charges, would write fraudulent Philadelphia Police Accident Reports for Galati so that American Collision could include district control numbers on claims submitted to insurance companies. Former adjusters Stanton and Juliano would write inflated estimates and submit paperwork for claims they knew were fictitious in exchange for cash, meats or other gifts. During the course of the investigation, eleven deer accident claims that had been approved by Stanton were submitted to Lange Technical Services for a Collision Damage Analysis. The report concluded that all eleven claims were fraudulent.
Galati also conspired with a City of Philadelphia Office of Fleet Management employee, Robert Otterson, who helped him fraudulently procure a lucrative city contract by falsifying documents, even though American Collision did not meet all contract requirements. All shops competing for a contract to repair city vehicles had to own a squeeze type resistance spot welder by the time its bid was submitted. The welder was required due to the composite metals which were used to manufacture City of Philadelphia Police Department Chevrolet Impalas. Despite the fact that American Collision did not own this welder at the time of the bid, they were awarded the contract and began to repair city vehicles, including the police cars. The investigation revealed that although Galati later purchased the welder, he never commissioned the electrical work necessary for the machinery to operate. Therefore, Galati never used the required welder at any point during his contract with the City of Philadelphia.
In addition to insurance fraud arrests, this investigation also resulted in uncovering a stolen boat which Philip Sessa and Galati took from a marina in Somers Point, New Jersey, and in the discovery of stolen funds which had been misappropriated from an elderly gentleman’s Bank of America account. Galati and three other men were also charged with attempted murder in December 2013 following a murder for hire that targeted Grand Jury witnesses. In spite of testifying in front the Grand Jury that he and his wife only earned two hundred and fifty dollars a week, Galati cashed over 1.2 (m) million dollars’ worth of checks at Whitman Check Cashing in South Philadelphia over the course of several years. Galati used the proceeds from his corrupt organization to throw elaborate parties at his shorefront properties and to fund expensive dinners at local restaurants. Cooperating conspirators from American Collision stated that Galati could often be heard repeating his favorite mantra: “I live my life to cheat insurance companies – my high every day is to cheat insurance companies.” The investigation revealed that Galati certainly did cheat insurance companies, as well as the City of Philadelphia, out of over two million dollars.
To date, fourteen persons have been arrested and charged with Insurance Fraud and related crimes in connection to American Collision. Many of those arrested and charged have agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and have agreed to testify against Galati. We are in the process of arresting an additional twenty-seven involved in the conspiracy, for a total of forty-one arrests.

Others indicted by the Grand Jury:

Ronald Galati, Sr. of 2500 block of S. Garnett St – 63 years old
Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 141 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 135 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 133 counts
Attempted Theft by Deception (F3) 2 counts
Bid-rigging (F3)
Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2)
Obstructing Administration of Law/Governmental Functions (M2)
Tampering With Public Records or Information (F3)

Vicki Galati of 2500 block of S. Garnett St- 59 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 3 counts
Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (F1)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

Ronald Galati, Jr. of 2500 block of S. Garnett St- 37 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Perjury (F3)
Bid-rigging (F3)
Obstructing Administration of Law/Governmental Functions (M2)
Tampering with Public Records or Information (F3)
Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2)

William Reed of 1200 block of S. Newkirk- 36 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

Joseph Clark of 2500 of S. Garnett- 57 years old

Conspiracy (F) 2 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 2 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 2 counts

Troy Nixon of Yeadon- 42 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 3 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 3 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 3 counts

Ronald Soffian of 1900 block of S. 20th- 66 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 18 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 17 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 17 counts
Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3)

Philip Sessa of the 2300 block of S. 30th- 44 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Receiving Stolen Property (F3)

Douglas DiEmdieo of the 1600 block of S. 12th- 50 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 3 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 3 counts
Obstructing Administration of Law/Governmental Function (M2) 3 counts
False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities (M3) 3 counts

Cheryl Stanton of the 1700 block of Packer- 58 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 37 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 36 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 36 counts

Arthur Juliano of the 2900 block of Juniper- 37 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 8 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 7 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 7 counts

Jerome Johnson of the 5500 block of Upland- 45 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Insurance Fraud (F3) 3 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 2 counts
Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Attempted Theft by Deception (F3)

Anayat Hosein of the 2000 block of Mercy- 56 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 3 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 3 counts

John Finch of the 1600 block of Annis- 57 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Attempted Theft by Deception (F3)

Robert Otterson of the 1900 block of S. 30th- 48 years old

Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Bid-Rigging (F3)
Perjury (F3) 2 counts
Obstructing Administration of Law/Other Governmental Function (M1)
Tampering with Public Records or Information (F3)
Securing Execution of Documents by Deception (M2)

Joseph Fina of Williamstown, NJ- 67 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Insurance Fraud (F3) 6 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 6 counts
Conspiracy (F) 7 counts
Perjury (F3)

Steven Ligambi of the 3100 block of S. 17th- 28 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

William Weathers of the 1500 block of S. Opal- 36 years old

Conspiracy (F) 14 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 14 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 14 counts

Andre Speller of the 700 block of S. Marvine- 55 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 17 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 16 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 16 counts

Victor Harry of the 1200 block of N. 58th- 45 years old

Corrupt Organizations (F1)
Conspiracy (F) 11 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 10 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 10 counts

Stephanie Dykes of the 1500 block of Opal- 55 years old

Conspiracy (F) 4 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 4 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 4 counts

Eric Dykes of the 2500 block of S. 75th- 58 years old

Conspiracy (F) 7 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 7 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 7 counts

Reynalda Dykes of the 2500 block of S. 75th- 54 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

Renee Taliaferro of the 1400 block of N. 29th- 57 years old

Conspiracy (F) 2 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 2 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 2 counts

Courtney McClees of the 7300 block of Meadow Lark- 45 years old

Conspiracy (F) 5 counts
Insurance Fraud (F3) 5 counts
Theft by Deception (F3) 5 counts

Donna Willis of the 4400 block of N. Gratz- 50 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

William Pomarico of the 1200 block of Mckean- 60 years old

Conspiracy (F)
Insurance Fraud (F3)
Theft by Deception (F3)

New Traffic Court Unit

May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014: District Attorney Seth Williams is pleased to announce the creation of a new Traffic Court Unit in the office, which will be responsible for prosecuting all traffic and motor vehicle related cases in Philadelphia. This new Unit will be part of the District Attorney’s Pre-Trial Division.

The new Traffic Court Unit will handle over 500 citations a day that will be heard by five Hearing Officers. Two Municipal Court Judges will be responsible for another 150 plus cases a day. To handle this volume, the Traffic Court Unit will be comprised of four Assistant District Attorneys and ten paralegals who will be responsible for handling everything from a typical speeding infraction to complex vehicle registration and titling fraud cases.
The unit was created as a result of a restructuring of the city’s Traffic Court when it was brought under the supervision of the First Judicial District’s Municipal Court in June 2013.
“My office has been working with the First Judicial District to develop a plan that efficiently, and most importantly, fairly handles these cases,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Under the leadership of the Honorable Judge Gary Glazer, acting as the Supreme Court’s Administrative Judge, the Traffic Court Division has made great strides in the past year. We look forward to partnering with the First Judicial District in continuing to ensure that all defendants are treated justly and equally.”

The District Attorney’s Office will also continue to work with the Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, Amtrak, PennDOT, Fuel Tax, Philadelphia Housing Police, Public Utilities Commission, Septa, State Park Rangers and Bridge Police to prosecute the citations they issue. “This is a unique and great opportunity to restore the public’s confidence in our Traffic Court system,” continued the District Attorney.

The District Attorney’s Office Traffic Court Unit will begin staffing hearings before the Municipal Court Traffic Division this summer. Traffic hearings will continue to be heard at 800 Spring Garden Street. ADA Robert Daisey is the Chief of this new unit.

2014 Primary Election

May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the City Commissioner’s Office and the Committee of Seventy will all be watching Tuesday’s primary elections closely. Members of the District Attorney’s Office will monitor action at the polls and enforce fair practices to ensure that a fair election is held on Tuesday.

The City Commissioner’s Office is urging anyone with questions about tomorrow’s election to visit their website, http://www.philadelphiavotes.com. The website helps voters check their registration status, find their polling place and check if their polling place is fully handicapped accessible. This information is also available through the City Commissioner’s Election Day hotline at 215-686-1590.

The Committee of Seventy will also have non-partisan volunteers available to help with any problems at the polls throughout Philadelphia. Voters’ with election-related questions or who are experiencing problems at their polling places should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Voters seeking information about the candidates and Philadelphia’s three ballot questions can always go to their website http://www.seventy.org.

Voters’ complaints can be registered by calling the District Attorney’s Office at 215-686-9641, 9643, 9644 or 9884. The Committee of Seventy will also be available to answer any election related questions at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Mobile units, each with an Assistant District Attorney and a District Attorney’s Detective, will be dispatched to problem polling places to investigate any person who attempts to violate a citizen’s right to vote. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Charges can include: assault, vote fraud, harassment, terroristic threats and voter intimidation.

ELECTION DAY TELEPHONE NUMBERS

CITY COMMISSIONERS
Chairman, Honorable Anthony Clark 215-686-3462
Vice Chair, Honorable Al Schmidt 215-686-3464
Commissioner, Honorable Stephanie Singer 215-686-3460

COMMITTEE OF SEVENTY 1-866-687-8683
(Report Problems at Polling Place/ 215-557-3600
Any Election-Related Questions)

Philadelphia Man Sentenced up to 75 Years in Prison for 2004 Christmas Eve Home Invasion Robbery and Rape

May 9, 2014

May 9, 2014: Today, the Honorable Alice Dubow sentenced Lamar Rayson to 37.5 to 75 years in prison to be served consecutively with a 32 year federal prison sentence the defendant is already serving.

In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve in 2004, a 45 year old woman was in her home on the 6100 block of Torresdale Avenue with her two children, waiting for her boyfriend to come home, when she heard a noise downstairs in her house. When she went to investigate, the defendant and two other men rushed inside behind her boyfriend, brandishing firearms and knocking her to the ground. The defendant forced the victims to lie down on the ground while they ransacked the house for money, jewelry, and other valuables. The men stole jewelry, electronics, telephones, clothing, cash, a purse, credit cards, identification, and even Christmas gifts from underneath the Christmas tree.

While the adults were forced at gun-point to lay on the ground, this defendant forced his way into the bedrooms of her sleeping children. The children awoke to find Rayson pointing a gun at them and demanding they hand over their electronic devices.

As the victim lay helplessly on the ground with a gun to her head, the defendant lifted up her robe and commented on her body. Rayson then directed one of his accomplices to take her into the bedroom. There, she was forced to lay on her bed as she was brutally raped by Rayson and his accomplice. Her boyfriend and children continued to be held at gunpoint by the third accomplice, while they helplessly listened to her screams.

A CODIS DNA hit was not obtained until 2012. The defendant’s DNA was in the system by that point due to numerous crimes that committed in 2005 and 2006. As a result of those crimes, the defendant was arrested and convicted in federal court for eight gun point robberies of Chinese Restaurants, one gunpoint robbery of a 7-11 convenience store, and a gun point carjacking. The defendant was sentenced to 32 years of federal incarceration in 2008.

Rayson’s two unknown accomplices are still being sought by police.

On October 22, 2013, Rayson entered an open (non-negotiated) guilty plea to Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Burglary, four counts of Robbery, Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act and related offenses. The now 29 year old Lamar Rayon’s sentencing was deferred until today, May 9, 2014.

ADAs Branwen McNabb and Ashley Lynam successfully prosecuted this case and praised the Court’s sentence by stating, “With her sentence, Judge Dubow has ensured that no man, woman, or child will ever been victimized or terrorized by this defendant again.”

ADA John Doyle Honored with PA Fraud Fighter Award

May 2, 2014

May 2, 2014: The Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority (IFPA) and the Pennsylvania Chapters of the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) honored Assistant District Attorney John Doyle of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office with a 2014 Fraud Fighter Award during the recent PA Insurance Fraud Conference in Hershey.

The award, presented by IFPA executive director Ralph Burnham before over 500 conference attendees, was given in recognition of Doyle’s expertise and skills in securing the criminal convictions of Center City dentist Dr. Owen J. Rogal and his daughter Kim Rogal of The Pain Center.

The heart of the alleged criminal scheme was the Rogals’ billing to numerous insurers of an $800 “radio frequency surgery” pain relief procedure done on joint, nerve and muscle tissue areas – as a much more highly invasive and risky $4,800 radio frequency surgery procedure performed by a neurosurgeon in a hospital setting on a patient’s brain. Dr. Rogal was alleged to have performed and directed medical doctors in performing the procedures at The Pain Center, while office manager Kim Rogal billed insurers.

In May 2013, Doyle successfully prosecuted the Rogals, who had been accused of bilking insurers of some $1 million through $5 million in fraudulent medical billing from 2002 through 2011. Doyle’s skillful presentation of witness testimony and documentary evidence to a jury overcame defense arguments that the alleged false billings were merely a dispute between the Rogals and insurers regarding interpretation of complex medical codes and terminology.

With jury deliberations lasting less than two hours, the Rogals were found guilty of all charges, including corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, and multiple counts of insurance fraud, theft by deception, and attempted theft by deception. In their November 2013 sentencing, Dr. Rogal was ordered to immediately begin serving one to seven years imprisonment, while Kim Rogal was placed under house arrest for up to 23 months and ordered to serve probation for five years and perform 200 hours of community service. Each were sentenced to pay restitution of $372,845.88, $55,000 in fines and court costs.

“Insurance fraud is a crime that we all pay for, through needlessly high insurance premiums,” said Burnham. “We are honored to present Fraud Fighter Awards to those whose hard work and dedication help safeguard the Commonwealth’s insurance consumers against higher costs. It is through the work of skilled criminal prosecutors, such as Assistant District Attorney Doyle, that all who would cheat and steal by engaging in insurance fraud may learn to avoid carrying out their criminal schemes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

A prosecutor with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for more than 28 years, Doyle has worked in the homicide unit for more than 18 years, exclusively prosecuting murder and vehicular homicide cases, and handling over 150 jury trials before joining the District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit in 2012. Doyle is a graduate of LaSalle University and obtained his law degree at Gonzaga University.

Also recognized with presentations of 2014 Fraud Fighter Award were: Larry Patterson, a detective with the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division, for successful resolution of multiple insurance fraud cases referred for investigation by IASIU members; and two former IFPA board members, John Henry of Motorists Insurance Group and Edward Litchko of Independence Blue Cross, for their years of service in guiding the IFPA’s funding of statewide insurance fraud prosecution and public fraud awareness education programs.

The IFPA was created in 1994 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Act 166, Pennsylvania’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, arms law enforcement with the resources necessary to fight insurance fraud in the Commonwealth. IASIU, founded 1984, is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the efforts of law enforcement and insurance industry fraud investigation professionals in combating insurance fraud. For more information about IFPA and IASIU visit http://www.helpstopfraud.org and http://www.iasiu.org.

Secretary of North Philadelphia Law Firm

May 1, 2014

May 1, 2014: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged Jasmine Torres, 39, of the 3900 block of N. 6th Street, with Theft and Forgery. Torres is accused of taking over $25,000 in cash and money order payments from at least 23 clients of a law firm on the 700 block of Allegheny Ave. Torres was employed as a secretary at a firm that specialized in immigration related services. She is accused of taking the money from the clients and then keeping it for herself. She never forwarded the money to the law firm, and never provided the sought after legal services.

Torres was arrested on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, bail was set at $120,000, and her next court listing is scheduled for May 16, 2014 in courtroom 406.

This case is still under investigation and the District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit and East Detectives believe there may be more victims. If you were a client of this law firm and believe that you may be a victim of Torres’ theft, please contact Det. Daphne Smith of East Detectives at 215-686-3243, Det. Patricia Wong at the DA’s Office Economic Crime Unit 215 686 8732, or email the District Attorney’s Office at justice@phila.gov.

46 People Charged in Elaborate Slip and Fall Scheme

April 24, 2014

April 23, 2014: Today, District Attorney Seth Williams announced charges against twenty-four (24) people for a seven year scheme using staged slip and fall accidents that defrauded over twenty-one (21) different insurance companies out of close to $400,000. The defendants include people who falsely claimed to have suffered accidents and injuries, and the “runners” who recruited them to lie.
The lengthy Grand Jury Investigation into this complex ring began nearly two years ago. Based on assistance from The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), various victim insurance companies (Harleysville, USAA, Utica, Hartford, Philadelphia Contribution, State Farm, Zurich, Erie, Western Heritage, American Indemnity, Technology, Scottsdale, Chubb, Allstate, Travelers, U.S Underwriters, Markel Corporation, Crawford & Co, Gallagher Bassett, Nationwide, Ohio Casualty, Nautilus, RepWest, Carl Warren & Co, PA Assigned Risk and CNA), witness testimony, and records seized in the course of the investigation, the District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) established that the scheme was operated by a local attorney for more than seven years.
The director of this complex insurance fraud was 52-year-old Andrew H. Gaber, an attorney. Gaber ran the operation out of his Center City law office where he was the sole-practitioner. Gaber who was scheduled to be arrested today, along with several other defendants, committed suicide last week.
The “runners” in this scheme were paid approximately $100 to $500 cash for bringing in or referring a claim. The “runners” were trained to recognize the following necessary components of a “good case:” claimants should go to the hospital or call an ambulance following the staged fall, and the sidewalk where the accident occurred should have a defect that is not too obvious. Testimony also described a photo that hung in the law office featuring a ruler measuring the appropriate height of a pavement defect as an example of a “good spot” to fake a fall. The Law Offices of Andrew H. Gaber operated primarily on referral business, meaning that over 95% of the firm’s cases were brought in by runners. Some of the runners referred over fifty (50) cases each to the firm over a three year span.
This insurance fraud operation also enlisted claimants in addition to runners to act as conspirators. These people were encouraged to fabricate falls and lie about injuries to medics and/or fire rescue in order to deceive insurance companies. For their part, claimants received a portion of the cash settlements, or the remaining amount after Gaber’s 40% fee, medical bills and any liens were deducted.
In order to cement these fraudulent claims, the runners would instruct the fraudulent “clients” to call 911 and have fire rescue transport them to a local hospital for emergency treatment. The recruited “client” would then go to a doctor for further medical care. The importance of this medical treatment was reinforced routinely, and the runners were told to “make sure” the clients would receive therapy. Gaber then filed fraudulent insurance claims supported by medical records, witness statements, alleged fall spot photographs, and fire rescue and/or ambulance records. Evidence established that the runners brought in forty-three (43) fictitious claims. Gaber settled twenty-four (24) of these claims for approximately $382,900.00 from various insurance companies.
“We commend the District Attorney’s Office for its continued efforts to fight insurance fraud,” said NICB Regional Director Gary Healy. “Today’s announcement sends a clear message that our law enforcement partners are prepared to go the distance to pursue those who would try to take advantage of Pennsylvania insurance companies and their customers.”
To date, twenty-two (22) people have been arrested and charged with Insurance Fraud and related crimes in connection with these staged slip and fall accidents. Of those twenty-two (22) defendants, nineteen (19) cases have already been disposed of. Fifteen (15) defendants have entered guilty pleas, four have been granted ARD, and three are scheduled for guilty pleas in upcoming hearings. IFU is in the process of tracking down and arresting an additional twenty-four (24) people involved in the conspiracy, for a total of forty-six (46) arrests.
Assistant District Attorney Linda Montag and Detective Alfredo Quintile, both of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit, are specially assigned to this investigation.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.