Philadelphia – During the course of an ongoing investigation, detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Theodore Gaines for registering a vehicle with a fraudulent financial responsibility identification card. Detectives retrieved the Penndot title history for Gaines’s 2004 Chevrolet Impala and learned that he registered the vehicle on December 12, 2011 with an Access General Insurance Company financial responsibility identification card. Detectives contacted a representative from Access General and learned that the listed policy number was not valid. Gaines was arrested on July 21, 2015 for Insurance Fraud, Criminal Conspiracy, Forgery, Tampering with Records, Securing Execution and Unsworn Falsifying. Gaines is next listed for a status hearing on August 4, 2015 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category
WOMAN REGISTERS VEHICLES WITH FRAUDULENT SENTINEL AND ACCESS GENERAL FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IDENTIFICATION CARDSJuly 28, 2015
Philadelphia – During the course of an ongoing investigation, detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Unique Blocker for registering two vehicles with two different fraudulent financial responsibility identification cards. Detectives retrieved the Penndot title history for Blocker’s 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix and learned that she registered the vehicle on December 18, 2012 with a Sentinel Insurance Company financial responsibility identification card. Detectives contacted a representative from The Hartford insurance company, who oversees Sentinel Insurance, and learned that the listed policy number was not valid. Blocker’s Penndot title history also revealed that she had registered a 2001 Pontiac Montana with an Access General insurance financial responsibility identification card on October 11, 2012. Detectives contacted an investigator from Access General Insurance Company who confirmed that the listed policy number was also not valid. Blocker was arrested on July 23, 2015 for two counts of Insurance Fraud, two counts of Criminal Conspiracy, two counts of Forgery, two counts of Tampering with Records, two counts of Securing Execution and two counts of Unsworn Falsifying. Blocker is next listed for a status hearing on August 4, 2015 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
WOMAN REPORTS ACCIDENT WHICH OCCURRED THREE DAYS PRIOR TO HER THE GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY POLICY INCEPTIONJuly 28, 2015
Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Chivon Ford after receiving a referral from The General Insurance Company. On August 1, 2014, Ford was driving her 2010 Nissan Maxima when she struck the back of a parked SEPTA Route 23 bus. Although the bus did not sustain any damages, Ford’s Nissan incurred heavy front end damage and her airbags deployed as a result of this collision. On August 4, 2014, Ford called The General Insurance Company to reinstate her lapsed policy. A few hours later on that same day, Ford called and reported that she had just struck a SEPTA bus and had damaged her vehicle. Detectives retrieved SEPTA surveillance footage and incident reports which contradicted Ford’s account. SEPTA documentation showed that the accident had in fact taken place on August 1, 2014. The investigation revealed that Ford’s insurance policy had been cancelled for non-payment on July 28, 2014 and that when Ford hit the SEPTA bus she was driving uninsured. Ford obtained her The General insurance policy three days after the accident had actually occurred. Ford was arrested for Insurance Fraud and Theft by Deception on July 17, 2015. She is next scheduled for a status listing on July 24, 2015 in the Philadelphia Municipal Court.
BODY SHOP OWNER RE-ARRESTED FOR CASHING INSURANCE CLAIM CHECKS BUT FAILING TO PROPERLY REPAIR DAMAGESJuly 28, 2015
Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Darryl Sewell after receiving a complaint from one of his customers. Sewell owns PSK Auto Body and was previously arrested in November of 2013 by DAO Insurance Fraud detectives for cashing insurance claim checks but failing to properly repair vehicles. In this incident, the complainant brought her 2012 Toyota Camry to PSK Auto Body after receiving a recommendation from a friend. The car was involved in an accident and had damage to the driver’s side rear bumper, trunk lid and tail light. Sewell told the woman that her 2012 Toyota Camry would be repaired within several weeks; however, Sewell failed to return the Camry for approximately six months. When the complainant finally did receive her vehicle, she discovered that there was damage inside of her truck, her GPS was missing, there was dog hair in the back of her car and several lights were out. When the woman took her vehicle to a car dealership for an inspection, she also learned that the factory airbags were taken out of her car and replaced with after-market airbags. The complainant stated that the airbags had not deployed in that accident nor had they deployed before that incident. Therefore, there would have been no need to replace the airbags.
Detectives retrieved the Allstate claim file which contained photographs of the damaged vehicle taken by the Allstate appraiser. When the complainant was showed these photographs, she denied that any of these damages were present when she dropped her vehicle off at PSK Auto Body. Sewell received a total of five thousand dollars to make repairs to the Toyota Camry. He failed to do the proper work and instead enhanced the damages and replaced original parts with shoddy after-market substitutes. Sewell was arrested on July 10, 2015 for Theft by Deception, Insurance Fraud, Theft by Unlawful Taking and Theft – Receiving Stolen Property. He is next scheduled for a status listing in Philadelphia Municipal Court on July 20, 2015.
MAN REGISTERS VEHICLE WITH FRAUDULENT AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IDENTIFICATION CARDJuly 28, 2015
Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Lehem Woldezghi after receiving information that his vehicle was registered with a fraudulent American Independent financial responsibility identification card. Detectives obtained the title history for Woldezghi’s 1999 Jeep and learned that Woldezghi had registered the car with an American Independent Insurance financial responsibility identification card. Detectives then contacted representatives from American Independent who stated that the listed policy number did not belong to Woldezghi nor was it even a valid policy number. Woldezghi was arrested for Forgery, Insurance Fraud and Unsworn Falsification to Authorities on July 6, 2015. He is next scheduled in Philadelphia Municipal Court for a status listing on July 13, 2015.
Philadelphia – Detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit investigated Anthony Daye and Rasheen Brown after receiving a referral from Sentry Insurance Company. On May 8, 2014, Rasheen Brown was leaving a Gary Barbera car dealership, insured by Sentry, when he had a slight accident with another customer. An Allstate insured woman was test driving a Chrysler Town and Country, which was owned by the dealership, when she reversed into Brown’s Dodge Charger. Brown and a female were occupying the Charger at the time of the collision; however, Sentry later received notice that Brown claimed that there were two male passengers present at the time of the collision. Detectives retrieved the Allstate claim file which included a recorded statement given by Brown in which he stated that he had two males with him in the car, one of whom was Anthony Daye. The file also contained a statement from Anthony Daye in which he also stated that he was present in the Dodge Charger when it was struck by the Town and Country.
Detectives interviewed the woman who was driving the Town and Country and she stated that she did slightly tap Brown’s Charger, but that he and a female were the only passengers present in the car at the time of the accident. The woman also stated that Brown appeared to be unscathed from the accident and denied that he ever lost consciousness as Brown reported to Allstate and Sentry insurance companies. Furthermore, employees of the Gary Barbera dealership also corroborated that Brown only had a woman accompanying him on the day of the accident.
During the course of this investigation, detectives learned that Brown also filed a second allegedly false personal injury claim with Farmers Insurance Company when his unoccupied Charger was lightly struck by another vehicle in October 2013. The driver of the striking vehicle stated that she did not know that her car was still in reverse when she hit the gas pedal, and so she consequently struck Brown’s Dodge Charger. Brown later filed a personal injury claim in which he stated that he and another passenger were injured as a result of this collision.
Based on witness testimony and insurance claim file documents, Rasheen Brown was arrested for two counts of Theft by Deception, two counts of Insurance Fraud, two counts of Conspiracy and one count of False Reports on July 2, 2015. Anthony Daye was also arrested for Attempted Theft by Deception, Insurance Fraud, Conspiracy and False Reports on July 2, 2015. Both defendants are next scheduled for a status listing on July 10, 2015 in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY TO HOLD COMMUNITY ACTION CENTER OPEN HOUSE AND WALK IN NORTHERN LIBERTIESJuly 28, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (July 28, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams will hold his third summer community walk on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. The District Attorney will be joined by members of his community outreach team, area elected officials, police, community stakeholders and service providers.
The walk is not just an opportunity for the District Attorney to hear from Philadelphians but it is a chance for residents to ask him questions and to learn more about the office and expand their access to legal and social services.
WHO: Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams
Community partners and stakeholders
WHERE: Philadelphia District Attorney’s Community Action Center
Piazza at Schmidt’s, 1050 North Hancock St., Building #59
WHEN: Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Open houses and community walks are an annual event for the District Attorney and, as in years past, the office will be holding community walks and open houses through the summer and into the fall.
SEAN BENSCHOP PLEADS GUILTY TO SIX COUNTS OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER IN SALVATION ARMY BUILDING COLLAPSE CASEJuly 21, 2015
Excavator operator could receive a 20 year sentence
PHILADELPHIA (July 21, 2015) – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office today announced that Sean Benschop has pleaded guilty to six counts of Involuntary Manslaughter and other charges related to the June 5, 2013, collapse of the Market St. Salvation Army Building. The plea also includes charges of Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, Causing a Catastrophe and twelve Counts of Reckless Endangerment.
“Most of us can recall the tragic image of a free-standing, unbraced wall coming down on the Salvation Army building; a building that was open for business with employees and customers inside,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “The death of six people and the injury of twelve others was nothing short of heartbreaking and I continue to offer my condolences and prayers for the survivors and families whose lives were forever altered on June 5, 2013.
“Today’s guilty plea is substantial step in our work to fully prosecute this case and so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the community, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia and all of the witnesses who offered testimony and evidence that led to Mr. Benschop’s plea today,” added Williams.
The non-negotiated plea could bring a sentence of up to10-20 years in prison. Benschop will be sentenced after the trial of his co-defendant, contractor Griffin Cambpell on September 21, 2015. Benschop was the operator of an excavator that was being used to demolish a building next to the Salvation Army building when it collapsed onto the property which was located at 2140 Market St. in Philadelphia killing patrons and employees.
Killed in the collapse were Juanita Harmon, Roseline Conteh, Mary Simpson, Kimberly Finnegan, Ann Bryan and Borbor Davis. Maria Pukan suffered serious and permanent injury.
Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Selber and Edward Cameron, Chief and Assistant Chief respectively, of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Homicide Unit are prosecuting the case.
PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY ISSUES WARRANTS FOR THE ARREST OF THREE PHILADELPHIA ELECTION OFFICIALS FOR VOTER FRAUDJune 24, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (June 24, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announces the arrest of three elections officials, two from the 33rd Ward 5th Division and one from the 36th Ward 10th Division, and charged them with election fraud and related charges. The infractions were made respectively during the 2015 and 2014 Primary Elections.
“I continue to be outraged that our election officials, after they clearly know the rules, think that they can just walk into the voting booth and vote multiple times or vote as someone else,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “What these three have done is clearly a crime and will be prosecuted. I hope that their wrongdoing reminds everyone who is entrusted with putting on and protecting our elections that my Election Fraud Task Force is real and will continue to find and arrest people who break our election laws.”
On Election Day, May 19, 2015, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Election Fraud Task Force was called to the polling place for the 33rd Ward 5th Division (Castor Avenue and Cayuga Street) to investigate complaints of illegal election activity. When interviewed, witnesses said that they saw Robin Trainor, who was serving as the division’s Judge of Elections, go into the voting booth with her husband, William Trainor Sr. After a short time, the witnesses said that they saw Robin Trainor come out of the booth, talk to Laura Murtaugh who was the division’s Minority Elections Inspector and sign the Election District Register under the name William Trainor Jr. She then went and reset the voting machine and returned to the voting booth with her husband. After examining the Election District Register, William Trainor’s signature did not match the officially known registration signature, and when interviewed, Robin Trainor said that she went into the voting booth to tell her husband who to vote for and then signed the Election District Register as her son in order to cast a second vote.
Robin Trainor (date of birth Sept. 21, 1959) is charged with Forgery, Tampering with Public Records or Information, Conspiracy, Repeat Voting at Elections, Interference with Primaries and Elections, Fraud, Conspiracy, Fraud by Election Officers, Unlawful Assistance in Voting, and Failure to Perform Duty. Laura Murtaugh (date of birth Dec. 6, 1958) is charged with Interference with Primaries and Elections, Fraud, Conspiracy, Fraud by Election Officers, and Failure to Perform Duty.
On Election Day, May 20, 2014, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Election Fraud Task Force was called to the polling place for the 36th Ward 10th Division (1410 S. 20th St.) to investigate complaints of illegal election activity. When asked, Cheryl Ali admitted that she voted on behalf of her mother because she was ill. After examining the Election District Register, Ali’s mother’s signature did not match the officially known registration signature. Ali had previously voted for herself at the 36th Ward 40th Division. Ali served as the 36th Ward 8th Division’s Machine Inspector for the following general election despite not living in that division.
Cheryl Ali (date of birth: Dec. 22 1958) is charged with Forgery, Tampering with Public Records or Information, Repeat Voting at Elections, and Qualifications of Election Officers.
Last year, Williams created an Election Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute allegations of Election Day criminal activity. The task force continues to be part of the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Unit and is staffed by assistant district attorneys and detectives.
In May of 2015, the District Attorney issued arrest warrants for four election officials from Philadelphia’s 18th Ward, 1st Division. In addition to committing election fraud, three of the four arrested lived in a different division than the one they were working in, which is a violation of the Election Code. The infractions were made during the 2014 General Election.
Trainor, Murtaugh and Ali have all turned themselves in today.
Office employs more minority attorneys than any law firm in PA
PHILADELPHIA (June 19, 2015) – Last evening, The Legal Intelligencer named Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams as one of their 2015 Diverse Attorneys of the Year for being fair, steadfast and willing to prosecute difficult cases.
“The Legal Intelligencer’s Diverse Attorneys of the Year Awards and dinner are intended to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of Pennsylvania’s diverse legal community. The purpose is to identify these outstanding achievers and by bringing attention to these impressive individuals, help promote the larger goal of helping celebrate and promote the cause of greater diversity in the legal community,” stated Hank Grezlak, Editor in Chief of The Legal Intelligencer.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office employs more minority attorneys than any other law firm in Pennsylvania. During the ceremony, The Legal Intelligencer’s Magazine and Supplements Editor, Ben Seal noted the District Attorney’s work in prosecuting child abuse cases against the Catholic Church and elected official corruption cases among others.
“I work with 600 of the best and brightest, dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, so in reality, this is really their award because they’re the diverse prosecutors who keep me energized and focused on making life better for Philadelphians no matter who they are or what they do for a living,” said District Attorney Williams. “Thank you Legal Intelligencer and congratulations to the entire 2015 class of diverse attorneys.”
The Legal Intelligencer’s editorial staff selected the award winners to shine a light on the outstanding work being done by minority attorneys across Pennsylvania. The list is announced every two years. This year’s list represents a cross-section of educators, public defenders, personal injury attorneys, law firm leaders, corporate stewards and prosecutors.
The Legal Intelligencer is America’s oldest daily law journal and a trusted source of Pennsylvania legal news, information and analysis. Their coverage also specializes in the courts, the legislature and case digests from appellate and federal courts. The 2015 Diverse Attorney of the Year award ceremony took place last evening in the Wannamaker Building’s Crystal Tea Room. For more information about the award and a full list of The Legal Intelligencer’s 2015 Diverse Attorneys of the Year, please visit: www.thelegalintelligencer.com.