October 23, 2013: 45- year-old Tracey Lea is facing Theft by Deception, Attempted Theft by Deception, Insurance Fraud and Criminal Conspiracy charges for a 2009 insurance claim to SEPTA.
Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit (IFU) began to investigate defendant Tracey Lea after receiving two alleged fraud referrals from SEPTA. On June 2, 2009, Lea and her sixteen-year-old daughter were passengers on the SEPTA route 67 bus. As the bus drove up the 9900 block of Verree Road, a man opened the driver’s door of his 1999 Volvo and hit the right side of the bus. The driver’s door and window of the Volvo were destroyed and the SEPTA bus suffered some minor damages to the rubber molding around the rear wheel as well as dents and scratches. There were eight passengers on the bus at the time of the incident and none reported any injuries. Detectives obtained the Philadelphia Police Department Non-Reportable Accident Form which also stated there were no passengers injured.
SEPTA later received notification from counsel who was representing both Lea and her daughter in a personal injury claim. Counsel claimed that Lea suffered injuries to her lower back, left hip and legs and that her daughter suffered neck and back injuries as well. Lea’s medical records indicated that she was thrown forward upon the impact of this accident which caused her to injure her lower back, left leg, neck and left shoulder. Lea visited a chiropractor on fifteen occasions between June 5, 2009 and July 31, 2009. She then sought additional medical treatment at another facility on twenty-one occasions between September and December of 2009. Lea also visited one other rehabilitation center for additional treatment on a date in 2011. Lea’s daughter also sought treatment at two clinics, making a total of thirty-eight appointments between the two. The daughter’s medical records allege that she was thrown on the floor as a result of this accident and suffered injuries to her neck, shoulder and lower back. Counsel submitted over nine thousand dollars in medical bills on behalf of Lea and over five thousand dollars in bills on behalf of her daughter. SEPTA paid five thousand dollars towards Lea’s bills and five thousand dollars toward her daughter’s treatment. Counsel also asked for an additional fifty thousand dollars on behalf of both clients.
Video surveillance footage from the route 67 bus shows that the driver’s side of the Volvo opened into the right side of the bus on the date of the incident. The bus comes to a controlled rather than a sudden stop and neither Lea nor her daughter are disturbed by the impact. Lea and her daughter are seen engaged in conversation and Lea’s hands are resting on her handbag. Video footage indicated that neither Lea nor her daughter were disturbed by the impact.
On October 23, 2013, Tracey Lea was arrested for two counts of Insurance Fraud, two counts of Theft by Deception, two counts of Attempted Theft by Deception and one count of Criminal Conspiracy for filing fraudulent personal injury claims against SEPTA on behalf of herself and her juvenile daughter. She is next listed for a status hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court on October 28, 2013.
ADA Dawn Holtz and Detective Donald Murtha of the IFU are specially assigned to this case.