December 10, 2012: The District Attorney’s Office has charged six people with filing false personal injury claims against SEPTA for an incident that occurred on Thanksgiving night 2010. 62-year-old Clarence Wright, Jr. of the 3100 block of N. Marston Street, 59-year-old Joseph Anderson of the 1800 block of N. 27th Street, 56-year-old Jeanette Sommerville of the 3100 block of N. 24th Street, 47-year-old Donnell Green of the 2700 block of N. 23rd Street, 62-year-old Bernard Robinson of the 3100 block of N. 24th Street, and 52-year-old Rubin Lindsay of the 5700 block of Reedland Street are all facing Insurance Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, and Attempted Theft by Deception charges. Clarence Wright, Jr. is also facing five additional counts of Insurance Fraud for his involvement in the plan to deceive SEPTA.
On November 25, 2010, the SEPTA Route 56 bus was pulling into the Wakeling Street stop on Torresdale Avenue when a woman tripped and fell while walking to the rear of the bus. The bus had not been in an accident or made any sudden maneuvers and no other passengers reported any injuries at the time. The woman who fell refused to be treated at the scene or go to the hospital, even though paramedics responded to the incident. During the weeks following November 25, 2010, Clarence Wright, Jr. (AKA “Superman”), Jeannette Sommerville, Bernard Robinson, Joseph Anderson, Donnell Green, Rubin Lindsay and the woman who tripped and fell all filed personal injury claims against SEPTA for injuries that they say they received as a result of the November 25 incident. Only Wright and the woman who fell were actually on the bus at the time of the incident. Wright, Sommerville, Robinson, Anderson, Green, and the woman who fell all initially used the same attorney to submit their claims to SEPTA. SEPTA referred the matter to Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) for investigation of suspected insurance fraud.
The Route 56 bus is equipped with interior and exterior video surveillance cameras. SEPTA provided the video from the cameras to the assigned IFU detective, who reviewed it and confirmed that there had been no accident or movements by the bus that would explain the woman’s fall or the claims of injury by the six defendants. In fact, the video revealed that of the seven people that filed personal injury claims, only the woman who fell and Wright were on the bus. Although Wright was on the bus and allegedly saw the woman fall, there is no indication that anything happened to him to cause his claimed injuries.
Notwithstanding these facts, SEPTA received $54,000 in medical bills in connection with the claims filed by the defendants. The investigation developed evidence that Wright allegedly recruited people who were not on the bus to file claims, and that he was paid a fee of $250 for each of the recruits by the attorney that represented him. The investigation also determined that the woman who fell did suffer some injury as a result of the incident and she is not facing any criminal charges.
All six defendants were arrested last week. The last arrests were made late on Friday, December 7, 2012. They are scheduled for hearings during the week of December 10, 2012. ADA Dawn Holtz of the DAO’s Insurance Fraud Unit is specially assigned to this case.