N.J. Resident Pleads Guilty to Defrauding 9/11 Fund

February 7, 2005

A former truck driver who falsely claimed to have been injured and permanently disabled in the terror attack on the World Trade Center pleaded guilty recently to making fraudulent personal-injury claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie and U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine announced.

In pleading guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper, the truck driver, Robert Newbury, 44, of Somerset, New Jersey, reportedly admitted that he submitted two false claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) in early 2002, asserting that he had been making deliveries to the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and suffered permanently debilitating injuries.

Newbury’s first claim was for an advance benefit of $50,000, and his second was for compensation for his injuries, including payment of all his family’s expenses until retirement due to his claimed permanent disability. In total, Newbury intended to receive between $400,000 and $1 million from the VCF. Because investigators discovered Newbury’s fraud, no payment was made.

Newbury also reportedly admitted fabricating employment records, including a delivery schedule for Sept. 11, 2001, as well as medical records from doctors he claimed treated his injuries and determined he could no longer work. Newbury admitted sending the documents to the VCF to prove his entitlement to compensation. Newbury admitted that he was making deliveries in southern New Jersey, not in New York City, on Sept. 11.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was established by Congress in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in order to compensate the families of victims who were killed as well as persons injured in the attacks. The Fund is administered by a Special Master in Washington, D.C., and fraudulent claims are investigated by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

Judge Cooper scheduled sentencing for May 16. Newbury faces a statutory maximum prison sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum fine equal to the greatest of either $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain derived by the defendant or the loss to any victim of the offense.

The government also filed a lawsuit against Newbury on May 24, 2004. The lawsuit alleges that Newbury’s fraudulent conduct violated the federal False Claims Act, which permits recovery of triple the amount of the damages to the government plus penalties. That lawsuit remains outstanding against the defendant.

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