New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy announced that a Pennsylvania man has been charged by the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor with reportedly participating in a scheme to get rid of at least two automobiles by setting them on fire and reporting them stolen in order for the owners to submit fraudulent insurance claims.
According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Robert Halpin, 23, of Horsham, Pa., was charged with two counts of arson for hire (1st degree), conspiracy (2nd degree), aggravated arson (2nd degree), arson to collect insurance proceeds (3rd degree), and attempted theft by deception (3rd degree). A first degree crime carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in state prison and a fine of $200,000, while crimes of the second degree carry a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to$150,000. Crimes of the third degree carry a maximum punishment of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Additionally, Halpin faces possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.
Gooden Brown noted that the State Grand Jury indictment alleges that on Nov. 2, 2002, Halpin met Joseph A. Cirino, Jr., 32, of Camden County, in the WalMart parking lot located in Berlin, Camden County, to arrange for the purported theft of Halpin’s 2000 Honda Accord.
During the parking lot meeting, it is alleged that Cirino gave Halpin $500.00 cash and the keys to the Honda Accord. It is charged that Halpin was to take Cirino’s car to an undisclosed location and set it on fire in order that Cirino could discontinue lease payments and file a fraudulent insurance claim. According to the indictment, Halpin reportedly carried out the scheme and set fire to Cirino’s Accord. Cirino reported the vehicle stolen to police and submitted a stolen vehicle claim to the Allstate Insurance Company. On Aug. 18, Cirino pled guilty before Camden County Superior Court Judge Linda G. Baxter to a charge of arson of property for the purpose of collecting insurance proceeds. Sentencing is pending.
The State Grand Jury indictment also charges that on July 1, 2003, Halpin was paid $500.00 to set fire to and destroy a 2001 Nissan Altima.
Unknown to Halpin, the arrangements to destroy the vehicle were reportedly made with an undercover state investigator from the Division of Criminal Justice. The indictment was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg on Dec. 11. The case has been assigned to the Camden County Superior Court for trial.
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