September 9, 2013: 52 year old Monica Bonuli has been charged with Attempted Theft by Deception and Insurance Fraud by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU).
Detectives from the IFU began to investigate defendant Monica Bonuli after receiving a referral from SEPTA regarding an allegedly fraudulent personal injury claim. On July 24, 2012, a SEPTA route 67 bus was driving in the area of Oxford Circle and Cheltenham Avenue when a tan sedan made contact with the left rear bumper of the bus and then fled the scene. The operator of the route 67 bus alleged that although he could see the tan sedan hit the bus, he felt no impact from the contact nor did any of his twenty passengers appear to be disturbed. However, the operator of the route 67 bus prepared an accident report as SEPTA protocol requires. The operator wrote that the damages were insignificant; the bus sustained a paint scuff and a crack on the left rear bumper. Furthermore, a SEPTA employee assigned to determine a repair cost estimated that there were no exterior damages as a result of this incident.
Despite the lack of damages, one passenger of the route 67 bus, Monica Bonuli, told the operator that she had injured her back as a result of this incident. Philadelphia police reported to the scene and Bonuli stated that she would seek medical treatment at a later date. On July 27, 2012, three days after the incident, Bonuli sought treatment at a local chiropractor’s office. Bonuli alleged that she had been a SEPTA bus passenger when the bus was struck from behind. Bonuli alleged that she was jolted forcefully upon impact and now suffers from constant headaches, neck pain and radiating pain in her lower extremities. Bonuli received treatment from the chiropractor on eight separate occasions between July and October of 2012.
Bonuli then sought counsel to represent her in a personal injury claim against SEPTA. According to SEPTA’s records, this incident was Bonuli’s third personal injury claim against SEPTA in a six year period. Bonuli filed claims against SEPTA in both 2006 and 2007. In connection with these cases, SEPTA paid over eighty three hundred dollars worth of Bonuli’s medical bills. In this case, counsel presented SEPTA with medical bills totaling approximately thirteen hundred dollars, as well as a report written by Bonuli’s chiropractor which estimated that Bonuli would need future treatment if ever her symptoms were exacerbated. Bonuli’s chiropractor estimated that these future treatments would cost approximately five thousand dollars. SEPTA denied payment of these claims.
Detectives reviewed surveillance footage from the route 67 bus on the date of the incident. Footage shows that as the route 67 bus entered Oxford Circle from Cheltenham Avenue there was a slight vibration; however none of the twenty passengers on the bus, including a small child, appeared to be disturbed. Furthermore, the operator of the route 67 bus alleged that following the accident, Bonuli walked around the bus and exited to smoke a cigarette at least twice. She did not appear to be injured.
After reviewing surveillance footage and conducting interviews, detectives arrested Monica Bonuli on September 6, 2013 for Attempted Theft by Deception and Insurance Fraud. Bonuli is next scheduled to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court on September 13, 2013 for a status listing.
ADA Irinia Ehrlich and Detective Donald Murtha are specially assigned to this case.