N.Y. Insurance Adjuster, Four Others Plead Guilty to Million Dollar Scam

April 28, 2004

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that five New York residents have pleaded guilty in Essex County Superior Court to charges they attempted to collect nearly one million dollars as part of an insurance fraud scam designed to cash-in on a million dollar insurance policy.

According to Vaughn McKoy, director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Mitchell Markowitz, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pled guilty before Essex County Superior Court Judge Joseph Isabella to a charge of attempted theft by deception. At the Aug. 2 sentencing, Markowitz will be required to permanently surrender his public adjuster’s license in New Jersey and New York and pay a $10,000 civil insurance fraud fine.

Similarly, four other co-defendants entered guilty pleas before Judge Isabella on April 27. Pleading guilty to third degree attempted theft by deception were Sol Zaltz, 55, of Brooklyn; Yehudah Berger, 53, of Brooklyn; Sam Nisser, 49, of Spring Valley, N.Y.; and David Nisser, 25, of Monsey, N.Y. Each of the defendants will be ordered to pay a $5,000 civil insurance fraud fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2 (David and Sam Nisser) and Aug. 8 (Zaltz and Berger).

In pleading guilty, the defendants reportedly admitted they conspired to purchase 20,000 pieces of inexpensive costume jewelry, grossly over-insure the inventory, produce phony purchase receipts reflecting a greater value than the jewelry’s worth, store the inventory in a warehouse, and purposely damage the jewelry in order to file a phony insurance claim.

The June 20, 2003 State Grand Jury indictment charged that Markowitz ultimately submitted an inflated insurance claim totaling $973,638 to The Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company.

As a result of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s investigation, Solomon Bouzaglou, owner of Exquisite Gems Inc. and Joseph Benlolo, purchaser of the jewelry, pleaded guilty on March 12, 2003 before Essex County Superior Court Judge Harold Fullilove.

Both defendants plead to separate criminal Accusations which charged conspiracy and attempted theft by deception. On Jan. 16, 2004, Benlolo was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 civil insurance fraud fine. Bouzaglou was sentenced on Feb. 6, to five years probation, ordered to pay a $5,000 civil insurance fraud fine, and to perform 150 hours of community service.

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