N.J. Resident Pleads Guilty to Staging Auto Accident to Collect More Than $13,000 in Insurance Money

June 27, 2003

New Jersey’s Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that an Essex County man has pled guilty to theft by deception for his reported role in staging automobile accidents in order to fraudulently obtain insurance claim monies.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Ricardo Ventura, 24, of Newark, pled guilty to a charge of theft by deception (3rd degree) before Union County Superior Court Judge John S. Triarsi. A third degree crime carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Ventura, who remains in Union County jail on unrelated charges, is scheduled to appear before Judge Triarsi on Oct. 6 for sentencing.

Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Brown noted that Ventura was charged via a Union County Grand Jury indictment returned on April 9 with conspiracy and theft by deception. Also charged in the Union County indictment were Rui Salgado, 24, of Newark, Joseph Caponegro, 23, of Newark and Anthony Padovano, 24, of Harrison. The defendants are pending trial.

At the guilty plea hearing, Ventura reportedly admitted that on Oct. 22, 1999, Padovano, while driving a 1998 Toyota, intentionally collided with a 1998 Ducati motorcycle and a 1999 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle which were parked in front of Caponegro’s house. Neither motorcycle had a rider at the time of the collision.

The indictment alleged that Padovano reported the collision to the Union Township Police Department as an accident in order to file a fraudulent insurance claim and to collect insurance monies. Ventura also admitted that he, Padovano, Caponegro and Salgado conspired to stage the automobile/motorcycle accident and shared in the proceeds. The Rider Insurance Company, Elco Administrative Services Insurance and the Prudential Insurance Company paid a total of $13,334 for the accident claim.

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