Philadelphia, April 19, 2011: Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has charged eleven people with insurance fraud; including a lawyer, a Philadelphia police officer, seven vehicle damage appraisers, and two vehicle repair professionals all of whom worked together to file multiple fraudulent insurance claims. These charges come as a result of a lengthy undercover investigation by the District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit (the “IFU”), that utilized electronic audio and video surveillance, a decoy car that was made available by Nationwide Insurance Company via The National Insurance Crime Bureau and a pretext insurance policy provided by GEICO Insurance Company.
In February of 2010, the IFU became aware of alleged illegal activities at University Collision Centers (“UCC”) inPhiladelphia,PAas a result of a referral by State Farm Insurance Company. The investigation by the IFU revealed that the owner and employees of UCC were enhancing and creating damage to vehicles brought into UCC for repair in order to inflate the value of insurance claims for collision damage. Additionally, certain vehicle damage appraisers employed by insurance companies were allegedly inflating appraisals in exchange for cash payments by the owner of UCC. UCC employees would use a fork-lift that had been modified to accept a variety of car bumpers, as well as other methods, to create damage to the cars.
Attorney Michael Wolf is alleged to have advised the owner of UCC with respect to the fraudulent aspects of the business. In addition, he is alleged to have filed fraudulent bodily injury claims in concert with the owner and certain employees of UCC.
The investigation also produced evidence that Philadelphia Police Officer Gary Cottrell allegedly acted as a “wreck chaser” both, while on and off duty. Specifically, Officer Cottrell used his position to direct car accident victims to UCC, for which he would receive cash payments based on a percentage of the ultimate insurance settlement. In addition, Officer Cottrell is alleged to have filed fraudulent claims for fabricated damage to his own vehicles.
Assistant District Attorney Vicki Markovitz and Philadelphia Police Detective Robert DiFrancesco are specially assigned to the case. Edward Hildebrandt faces a maximum sentence of 363 years incarceration and $750,000 fine; David Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 75 years incarceration and $125,000 fine; Arthur Juliano faces a maximum sentence of 105 years of incarceration and $205,000 fine, Addaie Amankwaah faces a maximum sentence of 79 years incarceration and $135,000 fine; Cheryl Stanton faces a maximum sentence of 105 years incarceration and $205,000 fine; John Howell faces a maximum sentence of 63 years incarceration and $100,000 fine; Rich Reilly faces a maximum sentence of 79 years incarceration and $135,000; Steve Wilkinson faces a maximum sentence of 63 years incarceration and $100,000 fine; Dave Robertson faces a maximum sentence of 63 years incarceration and $100,000 fine; Police Officer Gary Cottrell faces a maximum sentence of 152 years incarceration and $260,000 fine; and Michael Wolf faces a maximum sentence of 103 years incarceration and $185,000 fine for their part in organizing and conspiring and repeatedly engaging in schemes to defraud insurance carriers by submitting false claims.
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Arthur Juliano||Philadelphia, PA||35 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Addaie Amankwaaw||Philadelphia, PA||30 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Cheryl Stanton||Philadelphia, PA||55 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Richard Reilly||Mullica Hill, NJ||38 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Dave Robertson||Cherry Hill, NJ||44 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-Steve Wilkinson||Philadelphia, PA||52 years old|
|Vehicle Damage Appraiser-John Howell||Cherry Hill, NJ||65 years old|
|Police Officer Gary Cottrell||Philadelphia, PA||44 years old|
|Attorney-Michael Wolf,||Phoenixville, PA||52 years old|
|University Collision Owner-Edward Hildebrandt||Philadelphia, PA||41 years old|
|University Collision Manager-David Coleman||Chadsford, PA||41 years old|