N.J. Man Sentenced for Participation in Phony Staged Auto Accident Scheme

September 10, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that an Essex County man has been sentenced in Superior Court for his reported role in an organized scheme to illegally obtain official police accident reports in order to collect more than $36,000 in fraudulent insurance payouts.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Bernard Zeigler, 42, of Essex County, was sentenced by Essex County Superior Court Judge Paul Vichness to pay $36,563 in restitution to the Colonial Penn Insurance Company and to serve two years probation. Zeigler was also ordered to pay a $3,000 civil insurance fraud fine pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Gooden Brown noted that Zeigler pled guilty to charges contained in a State Grand Jury indictment returned on March 31. The indictment charged Zeigler with conspiracy, Health Care Claims Fraud and theft by deception. At the May 19 guilty plea hearing before Judge Vichness, Zeigler reportedly admitted that he posed as an insurance claimant and submitted claims to Colonial Penn Insurance Company knowing the underlying automobile accident never happened and that the police accident report was phony. Colonial Penn Insurance Company paid approximately $15,000 to settle the “bodily injury” claim and more than $20,000 to 14 different medical providers for purported “treatment” rendered to Ziegler as a result of the purported accident.

As part of the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s investigation into the larger “staged” accident scheme, a second indictment was returned on March 31 which charged Rajauhn Sharrieff, 51, of Newark, Shirley Jenkins, 51, of E. Orange, and her son Abdul Jenkins, 32, also of E. Orange, with conspiracy, bribery in official matters, and Health Care Claims Fraud.

The indictment alleged that from February through October, 1999, Sharrieff, Shirley Jenkins and Abdul Jenkins conspired to bribe an E. Orange police officer who was working in an undercover capacity for the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. The indictment charged that the defendants would endeavor to obtain legitimate police accident reports in order to identify the people named in the reports. They would then solicit the accident victims 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 charged that the defendants negotiated and paid the undercover police officer several hundred dollars for a genuine E. Orange Police Department automobile accident report and solicited the undercover police officer to create a fictitious automobile accident report detailing a non-existent hit and run automobile accident. The non-existent accident purportedly occurred on March 11, 1999, in which four persons who were passengers in Sharrieff’s car, including Ziegler, sustained “injuries.” As the result of the fictitious accident and resulting fraudulent police report, the Colonial Penn Insurance Company paid Sharrieff more than $1,563 for “damage” to the automobile.

On June 11, 2003, Shirley and Abdul Jenkins pled guilty to conspiracy, bribery in official matters, and Health Care Claims Fraud. Both defendants are scheduled to appear before Judge Vichness on Oct. 3 for sentencing. Sharrieff is pending trial.

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