N.J. Mother and Son Plead Guilty in Auto Fraud & Official Bribery Scam

June 13, 2003

New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that an East Orange mother and son have pled guilty to criminal charges as a result of their reported participation in an organized scheme to illegally obtain valid police accident reports in order to solicit victims to submit fraudulent insurance claims.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Acting Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Shirley Jenkins, 51 and her son Abdul Jenkins, 32, pled guilty before Essex County Superior Court Judge Paul Vichness to charges of conspiracy (2nd degree), bribery in official matters (2nd and 3rd degree), and Health Care Claims Fraud (2nd degree). The defendants are scheduled to appear before Judge Vichness on Oct. 3 for sentencing.

The defendants were charged via a State Grand Jury indictment returned on March 31. At the guilty plea hearing, Shirley and Abdul Jenkins reportedly admitted that from February through October, 1999, they conspired to pay bribes to an E. Orange police officer who was working in an undercover capacity for the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

The undercover investigation focused on allegations that persons were acting as “runners” on behalf of medical service providers in order to obtain police accident reports. The police reports were then reviewed and the persons identified in the reports were solicited to become patients of certain medical service providers and to file Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance claims. The defendants would allegedly receive a portion of any insurance settlement or payment.

The indictment also alleged that the defendants negotiated and paid the undercover police officer several hundred dollars for a genuine E. Orange Police Department automobile accident report. Specifically, it was alleged that Sharrieff solicited the undercover police officer to create at least one fictitious automobile accident report detailing a non-existent hit and run accident that purportedly occurred on March 11, 1999 in which four persons who were passengers in Sharrieff’s car sustained injuries. As a result of the fictitious accident and fraudulent police report, a claim was submitted to the Colonial Penn Insurance Company which paid Sharrieff more than $1,563 for “damage” to the automobile.

As part of the investigation, a second indictment was returned by the State Grand Jury on March 31 which charged Bernard Zeigler of E. Orange with conspiracy, Health Care Claims Fraud (2nd degree) and theft by deception (3rd degree).

The investigation determined that Colonial Penn Insurance Company paid approximately $15,000 to Zeigler to settle a “bodily injury” claim based, in part, on a phony accident report. Colonial Penn also paid more than $20,000 to 14 different medical providers for purported “treatment” rendered to Ziegler as a result of the “accident”. Zeigler pled guilty to all the charges on May 19 and is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Vichness on Sept. 8. The investigation regarding the role of specific medical providers is ongoing.

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