October 11, 2012: The District Attorney’s Office has charged eight people with Insurance Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy and other related charges for faking injuries on a Septa bus in 2009.
48-year-old Kitt Smith of the 1500 block of S. Stillman Street, 56-year-old Avis Jackson of 1200 block of S. 31st Street, 21-year-old Malik Spivey of 900 block of W. Champlost Ave, 46-year-old Eric Lovett of 2200 block of N. 17th Street and 36-year-old Stephanie Williams of 2200 block of N. 17th Street were all arrested and charged with Criminal Conspiracy, Attempted Theft by Deception and Insurance Fraud. 45-year-old Lorraine Huff of 3300 block of B. Street, 46-year-old Faith Rowley of 1200 block of S. 31st Street, 55-year old Arthur Whaley of 1300 block of Wells Street are also facing additional charges of Perjury and Unsworn Falsification for the incident that happened in December 2009 on the SEPTA Route 21 bus.
In April of 2012, the SEPTA Director of Claims contacted detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit after receiving multiple allegedly fraudulent personal injury claims. Detectives proceeded to investigate the above defendants who claimed that they were injured on the SEPTA Route 21 bus on December 23, 2009. On that date, the bus was stopped at 15th and Walnut Streets when the right mirror of a passing Loomis armored car made contact with the left mirror of the SEPTA bus. There was no damage to the Loomis vehicle and the SEPTA bus only received a scratch as a result of the incident. At the time of the occurrence, no passengers were reported injured on either vehicle. The SEPTA bus was equipped with a video surveillance system that records from multiple vantage points inside and outside of the bus.
Despite the lack of reported injuries, the above defendants all retained the same attorney to file bodily injury claims on their behalf. The attorney then sent SEPTA letters notifying the claims department that the defendants were claiming to have been injured while on the SEPTA Route 21 bus on December 23, 2009. The defendants were all treated at the Center City Medical Center for various injuries such as back and neck pain. The total potential value of the eight defendants’ combined medical bills is approximately eighty thousand dollars. Of the eight defendants that filed claims, only Lorraine Huff and Malik Spivey were actually on the bus at the time of the incident. Eric Lovett, who can be seen on video outside the bus, requested an “Incident card” from the bus driver after the two vehicles bumped mirrors. He then allegedly enlisted the other five defendants, whom he found on the street at the time of the accident or in his own neighborhood, and convinced them to file claims in return for monetary compensation. The defendants’ attorney also filed claims against the Brinks Company, which is insured by The Protective Insurance Company. The attorney filed the claims against Brinks, because he mistakenly believed that the Loomis armored car was owned by Brinks. He continued to pursue the claims against Brinks after being informed of the error, forcing Brinks to defend themselves against the erroneously filed claims.
The investigation by District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud detectives included viewing the surveillance video from the SEPTA Route 21 bus. This video confirmed that six of the defendants were not on the bus at the time of the accident and that the two that were actually on the bus were not injured in the manner that they claimed. Detectives also conducted witness interviews and reviewed claim documents, including medical records. Included among the claim documents were transcripts of depositions given by Huff, Rowley and Whaley, at which they each gave allegedly false testimony under oath concerning their claims. The statute of limitations on these crimes is five years after a claim is made to an insurance company.
The defendants were arrested and charged with the above offenses between September 20 and 27. All eight defendants are scheduled to appear in courtroom 406 at the CJC on October 15, 2012.