N.J. Man Sentenced to 7 Years in State Prison

September 25, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that a Camden County resident who reportedly coordinated an elaborate scheme to “stage” automobile accidents, obtain official police reports, submit phony insurance claims and attempt to collect nearly $100,000 in illegal payments from insurance companies has been sentenced to seven years in state prison.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, John Groff, 32, of Camden County, was sentenced on Sept. 19 to seven years in state prison by Camden County Superior Court Judge William Cook. Groff will not be eligible for parole for at least three and one-half years.

Gooden Brown noted that Groff plead guilty to charges in a July 27, 2001 State Grand Jury indictment. The indictment charged Groff with conspiracy to commit theft by deception and attempted theft by deception contained. On Sept. 25, 2002, Groff entered a guilty plea before Judge Cook.

At the guilty plea hearing, Groff reportedly admitted that he recruited 28 other individuals to participate in the business of “staging” automobile accidents in the Camden County area. The “staged” hit-and-run accidents were reported to the Pennsauken, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Bellmawr, Camden and Gloucester Township Police Departments.

The Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s investigation determined that Groff and 28 other defendants staged seven automobile accidents on June 2, 1996; June 20, 1996; June 26, 1996; July 13, 1996; July 14, 1996; July 24, 1996; and Aug. 1, 1996. As a result of the “staged” accidents, $96,842 in fraudulent insurance claims were submitted to five insurance carriers – Allstate Insurance Company, State Farm Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Prudential Insurance Company, and Material Damage Adjustment Corporation.

Gooden Brown noted that the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has realized a 143 percent increase in indictments; a 91 percent increase in defendants charged; a 79 percent increase in convictions (trial convictions and guilty pleas); and a 60 percent increase in civil sanctions during calendar year 2002. The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor charged 225 defendants in 2002, versus 118 defendants in 2001.

Additionally, the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor imposed sanctions in 3,723 civil fraud cases in 2002, compared to 2,063 civil sanctions obtained in 2001. The Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor collected $20.6 million in penalties in 2002, up from $15.8 million last year.

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