Brooklyn Residents Arrested in Phony Accident Scheme

March 6, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN – Sixteen Brooklyn residents were arrested Tuesday for their roles in a ring that staged auto accidents so they could fraudulently receive insurance payouts.

According to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the defendants, who submitted fraudulent insurance claims for $400,000, are charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records and other crimes.

The defendants allegedly staged nine “accidents” in Brooklyn, beginning in September 2009. Some of them allegedly arranged and participated in the accidents, while others agreed to be the passengers in the vehicles. Still others pretended that they had been in a particular accident, when in fact they had not even been in the vehicle that crashed, according to the accusation.

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The ring allegedly used several methods to stage the phony accidents. In several instances, they rented U-Haul trucks and intentionally crashed them into livery cabs, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

In a second type of staged accident, the defendants pretended to be pedestrians struck by other defendants or by vehicles driven by unsuspecting drivers, Schneiderman’s office said.

Finally, in other incidents, the defendants allegedly agreed to crash two vehicles into each other.

Most of the defendants agreed to participate in the accidents in exchange for money up front and the promise of a bodily injury lawsuit settlement after they were treated at a medical clinic, the Attorney General’s Office charges.

The defendants, all Brooklyn residents in their 20s and 30s, were identified as Jemal Aigle, Chantel Coke, Jospeh Free, Elhajj Gonzalez, Mark Gooding, Kenneth Hardy, Kenroy John, Darryl Johnson, Clarence McCollum, Kiran Newton, John Vasquez, Garry Walls, Karon Washington, Nyiesha Washington, Tanisha Wheeler and Cedric White.

The arrests were the culmination of a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York City Police Department, with the cooperation of Allstate, GEICO, Farmers and several other national insurance companies.

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