Archive for July, 2017

KELLEY B. HODGE SWORN IN AS PHILADELPHIA’S 25TH DISTRICT ATTORNEY

July 24, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 24, 2017) – Kelley B. Hodge was sworn in today as the City of Philadelphia’s 25th District Attorney. Hodge, who was elected on July 20, 2017, by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ Board of Judges, will serve until the newly elected District Attorney takes office in 2018.

“Thank you for having the confidence in me to lead this office, an office that I have profound admiration and respect for. The Board of Judges have entrusted me with a responsibility that requires diligence, intelligence, patience and most of all humility, and I can assure you that I will work every day, as I have for my 20 years as an attorney and advocate, to deliver just that to the citizens of Philadelphia,” said Kelley B. Hodge, District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia.

“To the members of the District Attorney’s Office, it’s good to be back, and this is our restoration period. Our opportunity to look at adversity from the rear-view mirror and know you have weathered the storm. The citizens of this city deserve our best as members of the District Attorney’s office and I hope to inspire you all to always seek to do better today than you did the day before,” Hodge added.

Before her election, District Attorney Hodge was Of Counsel to Elliott Greenleaf where she developed a practice focusing on criminal, education, risk assessment, compliance, and civil rights law. Prior to joining Greenleaf, she was the Title IX Coordinator at the University of Virginia and responsible for the implementation of a new sex and gender based harassment policy in the University’s eleven schools.

Before joining the University of Virginia, Ms. Hodge was appointed by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to serve as the Safe Schools Advocate under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. As Advocate, Hodge oversaw the reporting and response to incidents of violence in the Philadelphia Public School system. She worked closely with the First Judicial District Juvenile and Adult Courts, local law enforcement, mental and behavioral health agencies, and Philadelphia’s City Council, District Attorney’s Office, Mayor’s Office, and human relations agencies to ensure each student’s civil rights were protected.

“I would also like to thank the office’s leadership team who not only kept improving the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s policies and programs, but made sure the entire organization remained focused on justice and serving the people of Philadelphia,” said Hodge.

Ms. Hodge began practicing law in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a criminal defense attorney for the Richmond Public Defender’s Office in 1997. In 2004, she began practicing law in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. For eight years, Ms. Hodge prosecuted thousands of cases ranging from Misdemeanor Theft to Attempted Murder in the First Judicial District. She trained and managed new and seasoned Assistant District Attorneys and assisted in the creation and implementation of various diversionary programs.

In 2013, she was selected to serve on a Pennsylvania Joint State Commission on Violence Prevention in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, and in 2014 she was appointed by Governor Corbett to serve on the Interstate Compact for Juvenile Justice.

Ms. Hodge received her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law in 1996. She is a 1993 graduate of the University of Virginia where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Foreign Affairs and in Spanish Language and Literature. She is a native of Montgomery County, PA and graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, PA. Ms. Hodge currently resides with her husband and son in the Northwest section of Philadelphia.

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE RELEASES STATEMENT ON KELLEY B. HODGE BEING APPOINTED AS INTERIM DISTRICT ATTORNEY

July 21, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2017) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today released the following statement on the appointment of Kelley B. Hodge as Interim District Attorney by the Court of Common Pleas Board of Judges:

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office congratulates Interim District Attorney Hodge on her appointment. We are excited to welcome her back to the Office, and we look forward to working with her throughout her term in office.”

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PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AND AMTRAK CLOSE $26,000 FRAUD CASE

July 13, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (July 13, 2017) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and Amtrak’s Office of Inspector General today announced the arrest and prosecution of Shohana Culberson for defrauding Amtrak of more than $26,000 in illegal tickets. Culberson (DOB: 03-16-1987) was charged with Theft of Services and Criminal Conspiracy, and was terminated from Amtrak.

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is always ready to support our fellow investigators,” said Kathleen E. Martin, Acting Philadelphia District Attorney. “After a joint investigation, we charged Shohana Culberson for illegally using her position as an Amtrak employee to acquire more than 281 tickets, totaling $26,270, between December 2014 and April 2016.”

An Amtrak Conductor in Selma, North Carolina in May of 2016, found two passengers who could not produce identification for their Employee Rail Pass tickets They were escorted off the train and consented to a search. One passenger was found to be in possession of Oxymorphone Hydrochloride, a Schedule II Drug, and the other had an outstanding arrest warrant for Trafficking Opium and Heroin from Cumberland County, North Carolina. Both individuals were arrested.

The Amtrak Police Department (APD) discovered that their tickets were created using the Amtrak Employee Rail Pass assigned to Culberson. The travelers listed on the reservation were her alleged spouse and her daughter. While Culberson told OIG investigators that she had been married since 2008; that was later discovered to not be true. After assisting in the investigation, the DAO affirmed charges for defrauding Amtrak of goods and services. An Arrest Warrant was issued for Culberson, and she later surrendered Amtrak Police at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Ultimately, Culberson received five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to Amtrak.

“I commend the OIG staff and our partners in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office who investigated this case. It shows that area law enforcement and the Office of Inspector General are committed in preventing and detecting fraud, waste, and abuse whenever and wherever it happens,” said Tom Howard, Amtrak Inspector General.

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WOMAN CHARGED WITH FILING A FRAUDULENTCLAIM AGAINST FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY

July 10, 2017

Defendants:

  • Traine Smith
  • Age: 47
  • OTN: U0818985

Charges:

  • Insurance Fraud 18 Pa C.S. § 4117 – F3
  • Attempted Theft by Deception 18 Pa C.S. § 3922 – F3

Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit arrested Traine Smith on June 11, 2017 after receiving an insurance fraud referral from Farmers Insurance Company. Ms. Smith picked up her vehicle from the Philadelphia Police Impound Lot on June 11, 2014. She also purchased insurance for her vehicle on that same date. She then filed an insurance claim on June 12, 2014, stating that her vehicle was vandalized while parked in her driveway. Ms. Smith gave a statement to a representative of Farmers Insurance clearly stating that her vehicle was vandalized on the morning of June 12, 2014. She stated that her vehicle did not have any damage when she picked it up from the lot.

Ms. Smith’s vehicle was impounded on May 31, 2013 by the Philadelphia Police Department, pursuant to a narcotics investigation. A Philadelphia Police Department “Impound Lot Vehicle Inventory Control Sheet” states that the vehicle upon delivery to the impound lot had several dents and scratches all over the vehicle. There was also significant damage to the right and left quarter panel, as well as the hood and front window. The police officer who prepared the control sheet was interviewed by detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit, and confirmed the information written in the records of the Philadelphia Police Impound Lot.

Detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit also reviewed the case file from Farmers Insurance Company. Their documents revealed that Ms. Smith called Flatts Roadside Assistance Service Company to help jumpstart her vehicle on the day she picked it up from the impound lot. The mechanic that was dispatched by the company stated in an interview with an investigator from Farmers Insurance Company that he noticed significant damage, such as a crack in the windshield, and several scratched and dents on the left and right sides of the vehicle. Furthermore, Ms. Smith in recorded statements to the investigator states that she called OT Tire Company to help her with a flat tire and called Flatts Roadside Assistance Service Company to help jumpstart her vehicle. Unfortunately her vehicle would not start and had to be towed to her home.

Ms. Smith provided Farmers Insurance with a “Proof of Loss, Automobile Physical Damage Claim” form, where she listed the damages to her vehicle as “ rocks dented hood, mirror broken, oil in seat of car, wiring damage, flat tire, paint scratched on all doors, and passenger side fender cracked.” Ms. Smith was interviewed by detectives of the Insurance Fraud Unit on March 20, 2017. She stated again that the damage to her vehicle was due to the vandalism and that when she picked up her vehicle from the impound lot there weren’t any damages.

On April 21, 2017, the mechanic who was dispatched to the impound lot was interviewed. He stated that when he arrived he notices visible damage to Ms. Smith’s vehicle. He also recalled that she wanted him to document the damages so that she can submit the information to her insurance company. He stated that he never filled out any document to sustain her assertions.

After a review of the evidence Ms. Shane was arrested on June 11, 2017, on the above stated charges. She is next listed to appear in Philadelphia Municipal Court on July 21, 2017 for her arraignment.

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MAN CHARGED FOR REGISTERING A VEHICLE WITH A FRAUDULENT STATE FARM INSURANCE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CARD

July 10, 2017

Defendant:

  • Christian Van Robertson
  • Age: 25
  • OTN: U0837270

Charges:

  • Forgery 18 Pa C.S. § 4101 – F3
  • Insurance Fraud 18 Pa C.S. § 4117 – F3

Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit arrested Christian Van Robertson after they received a referral from the Philadelphia Police Department.

On August 17, 2016, Christian Van Robertson was pulled over by two police officers while driving. Mr. Van Robertson provided the two police officers with his license and with his financial responsibility card from State Farm Insurance Company. The police officers called the insurance company which stated that the financial responsibility card provided was fraudulent.

Detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit conducted a vehicle registration check which revealed that Mr. Van Robertson registered his vehicle with the fraudulent financial responsibility card at Hernandez Auto Tags on May 27, 2016. Further detectives also reached out to State Farm Insurance Company, which provided them with statement that they never issued any insurance cards to the defendant.

Christian Van Robertson was arrested on June 21st, 2017. He is next scheduled to appear for his a status listing in Philadelphia Municipal Court on July 32, 2017

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WOMAN FILES 23 FRAUDULENT CLAIMS WITH AFLAC INSURANCE COMPANY AND TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY

July 10, 2017

Defendants:

  • Bonita Ashley
  • Age: 60
  • OTN: U0834363

Charges:

  • Forgery 18 Pa C.S. § 4101 – F3 (14 counts)
  • Insurance Fraud 18 Pa C.S. § 4117 – F3 (13 counts)
  •  Attempted Theft by Deception 18 Pa C.S. § 3922 – F3 (1 count)
  • Theft by Deception 18 Pa C.S. § 3922 – F3 (1 count)

Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit arrested Bonita Ashley after receiving an insurance fraud referral from AFLAC Insurance Company (AFLAC). Over the two year period between 2014 and 2016, Ashley Bonita filed 22 false insurance claims for benefits with AFLAC. She was subsequently paid $10,605.000 in benefits, and attempted to file a claim against Travelers Insurance Company for an alleged broken tooth.

Detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit performed search warrants for Ms. Ashley’s medical records from various hospitals where Ms. Ashley stated that she was admitted. On many occasions, the records that Ms. Ashley submitted to AFLAC had forged dates, and stated that she was treated for ailments that she never received any treatment. Many of the records submitted were doctored from her previous medical history.

For example, Ms. Ashley submitted a claim to AFLAC stating that she was treated and had spinal surgery performed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital on March 3, 2015. Her actual medical records stated that she was treated for a posterior lumbar decompression on August 27, 2012 at that hospital.

Other claims submitted contained the same false information. On June 12, 2015, Ms. Ashley submitted a claim which stated that she was treated for a fracture in her right ankle. The surgical report that she submitted, stated that the surgery lasted 105 minutes. Her actual medical records from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania revealed that she never had such surgery. Also, the doctor whom Ms. Ashley stated performed the surgery has a strict specialty in surgery of the shoulder. She submitted two other claims on November 2. 2015 and November 3, 2015 claiming that she fell and needed a hip replacement. On these two claims. Ms. Ashley did not identify where she received treatment, however she provided a telephone number to Penn Medicine and Rehabilitation Center. None of the records from that hospital suggest that Ms. Ashley received treatment for hip related injuries or had a hip replacement surgery.

She submitted two other claims on June 10, 2015 and on June 30, 2015 to AFLAC. On the claim submitted on June 10, 2015, Ms. Ashley claimed that she fell down a flight of stairs but did not require any ambulance transportation. She stated that she was treated for a fracture in her right leg and ankle at Chestnut Hill Hospital. On her claim from June 30, 2015, Ms. Ashley stated that she was treated at the Chestnut Hill Hospital emergency department after she fell down a flight of stairs because she was upset at the passing of her mother. Her medical records revealed that she was treated on June 9, 2015, at Chestnut Hill Hospital for joint pain and not a fracture. She was never treated at Chestnut Hill Hospital on June 30, 2015.

On June 29, 2016 and on July 15, 2016, Ms. Ashley submitted two claims claiming that as a result of an automobile accident she suffered from paralysis in her right calf and left knee. She stated that she received treatment at Progressive Injury Care and at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania. A review of the medical records received from both providers revealed that Ms. Ashley falsified the dates that she received treatment and the type of treatment. Ms. Ashley was treated at Progressive Injury Care on March 21, 2016 and definitely not in June as she claimed in the records that she submitted. Further, Ms. Ashley was treated on June 20, 2016 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, however her ailment was a kidney cyst and not a paralysis of her calf. AFLAC did not pay any benefits on this claim. When Ms. Ashley was informed that her claim was denied, she threatened to report AFLAC to the media and kept on insisting that she was a paraplegic and therefore eligible for the benefits in her policy for that ailment.

Lastly, a review of Ms. Ashley’s previous insurance claims revealed that she attempted to file a similar fraudulent claim against Travelers Insurance for a broken tooth at a T.G.I Friday restaurant. Ms. Ashley claimed that in December 19, 2014 she was having lunch with her co-workers. While eating her lunch, Ms. Ashley bit down on an uncooked grain of rice which caused her tooth to split in half. She stated that she went to her dentist on the same day, and that by December 31, 2014 she had her tooth extracted. On January 6, 2015 she was informed that her claim was denied. Again, when informed of this Ms. Ashley called Travelers Insurance Company and threatened to call the media and inform them that the restaurant serves uncooked food.

On January 23, 2015, the manager of the T.G.I. Friday restaurant received a call from one of Ms. Ashley’s coworkers. Ms. Ashley was and is currently employed at the Juvenile Justice Center as a case manager for at-risk youth. The coworker asked to remain anonymous, stated that she was having a holiday lunch with Ms. Ashley. In a recorded statement, her coworker stated, that Ms. Ashley’s tooth was chipped previously but that she planned to go into the restaurant and claim that it was their food that damaged her tooth. On May 22, 2017, detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit interviewed her co-worker and confirmed the version of events that she gave to representatives of Travelers Insurance and the restaurant.

On June 5, 2017, Ms. Ashley was also interviewed by detectives from the Insurance Fraud Unit. She begrudgingly admitted to committing fraud and to falsifying her medical records while stating “as broke as I am, I may have altered the information on the forms”. Nevertheless to this day, Ms. Ashley sustains that she broke her tooth due to uncooked rice.

Overall Ms. Ashley provided drastically altered copies of her medical records from Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, and Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital to AFLAC. Further she provided falsified dental records to Travelers Insurance Company to sustain her fractured tooth claim. Before her arrest date, Ms. Bonita was given several chances to surrender. Ms. Bonita on a couple instances would call and state that she cannot comply with her arrest warrant because she was hospitalized. Ashley Bonita finally did surrender and was arrested on June 20, 2017, on the above stated charges.

Bonita Ashley is next scheduled to appear in courtroom 406, for a Status of Counsel Hearing on July 21, 2017 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

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