N.J. Man Sentenced for $100,000 Theft of Claim Settlement Monies

October 9, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that a Essex County man was sentenced for reportedly stealing more than $100,000 in insurance claim settlement checks.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, Joseph DeGregorio, 37, of Belleville, was sentenced to four years in State prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $102,000.

DeGregorio was sentenced pursuant to his guilty plea to a State Grand Jury indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor on Nov. 7, 2001 which charged him with second degree theft by deception.

At his guilty plea hearing on Dec. 6, 2002, before Essex County Superior Court Judge Harold Fullilove, DeGregorio reportedly admitted that he acted as a paralegal and assisted personal injury lawyers in settling personal injury insurance claims with various insurance companies.

Between January, 1999 and February, 2001, DeGregorio obtained 10 personal injury settlement checks from several insurance companies totaling more than $100,000. The monies should have been deposited into attorney escrow accounts and distributed to insurance claimants whom the lawyers represented. DeGregorio reportedly admitted that he stole the insurance claim settlement checks, forged the names of the lawyers and claimants, and deposited the monies into his personal bank account.

The indictment to which DeGregorio pled guilty was filed by the Division of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor which investigates and prosecutes both civil and criminal insurance fraud related cases.

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