Five Charged in Md. Auto Accident Scam

October 6, 2004

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced the filing of felony insurance fraud, felony theft and conspiracy charges against Michael Horner, former owner of Contemporary Auto in Harford County, and four co-conspirators, Darlene Hohl, Shannon Smith, Monica Trawinski and Janelle Wiegand.

The filing of charges follows a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General, the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration and the Maryland State Police.

In a 19-count indictment filed in the Circuit Court for Harford County, Horner was charged with felony theft, insurance fraud and conspiring to file numerous fraudulent automobile insurance claims totaling more than $288,000.00 from January of 2002 through January of 2004.

The charges also allege that Horner carried out this scheme by fraudulently switching vehicle identification numbers from undamaged vehicles to severely damaged salvage vehicles prior to their presentation to insurance claims adjustors for inspection. Each co-conspirator was charged with felony insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud for their involvement in the scheme.

If convicted, each of the defendants could face up to 15 years in prison on each count. No trial date has been set.

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