New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey has issued the 2004 Annual Report for the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP). The Report details investigations, prosecutions, and other activities undertaken by the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor during 2004.
“At the end of 2003,the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, an independent Washington D.C.-based insurance fraud monitor, announced that the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor was the number one insurance fraud prosecuting office in the United States. The OIFP has maintained that success into 2004, continuing as a national model for insurance fraud fighting efforts,” said Harvey. “The results are clear – the OIFP continues to have a significant impact on insurance cheats and, more importantly, OIFP’s fraud-fighting efforts cleared the way for the return of a major insurance company to New Jersey. Our efforts continue to make New Jersey a more friendly State for insurance companies — and a more unfriendly environment for insurance cheats.”
The Annual Report highlights the prosecutions, investigations and other activities undertaken by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) in 2004. Most notably in 2004, the number of those sentenced to jail for committing insurance fraud significantly increased over those sentenced to jail terms in 2003. In 2004, criminal prosecutions by OIFP resulted in the imposition of jail sentences totaling 199 years of incarceration – an increase of over 70% from the prior record-breaking year.
Harvey noted that gains in the amount of restitution ordered for victims were similarly noteworthy — more than doubling from 2003 to over $16 million in 2004. Together with County Prosecutor Insurance Fraud Units funded by OIFP, New Jersey filed criminal insurance fraud-related charges against 527 defendants, 93 of whom were sentenced to a total of 258 years in jail. OIFP, alone, accounted for over 79 percent of the jail time meted out to those convicted of insurance fraud.
Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown noted that since its inception in 1998, the OIFP has screened more than 60,000 reports of suspected insurance fraud, imposed more than 4,500 fines totaling more than $22 million, obtained orders for more than $46 million in civil and criminal restitution, pursued criminal prosecutions resulting in the conviction of approximately 840 insurance fraudsters, and sent nearly 300 convicted defendants to jail for more than 648 years.
Gooden-Brown said that the OIFP recorded an impressive 100 percent conviction rate in 2004. Among OIFP’s more notable trial convictions in 2004 were:
* The guilty verdict in State v. Linda Clements-Wright — an insurance company claims specialist who stole nearly $600,000 in bogus claim settlement monies;
*The guilty verdict in State v. Eliezer Martinez — a Medicaid provider who submitted nearly $140,000 in fictitious counseling claims to the Medicaid Program; and
*The successful infiltration, dismantling and prosecution of an insurance fraud ring headed by kingpin, Anhuar Bandy sentenced to 29 years in state prison. (This conviction represents New Jersey’s first successful prosecution of a staged accident ring as a criminal racketeering enterprise.)
The OIFP reportedly continues to be recognized by the national and international fraud-fighting community as the fraud-fighting model to be admired, studied, and emulated.
OIFP and its staff received awards in 2004 from the International Association of Arson Investigators, the International Association of Special Investigative Units, the United States Social Security Administration, and the New Jersey Vehicle Theft Investigators Association. OIFP’s public awareness campaign garnered awards for its creativity and effectiveness, and, once again, officials from throughout the international fraud-fighting community called upon OIFP for guidance and assistance.
Over the past six years, OIFP has conducted hundreds of training sessions reportedly benefitting thousands of law enforcement and insurance industry professionals engaged in fighting insurance fraud.
“As we complete our sixth full year of operation as New Jersey’s designated lead agency in the State’s war on insurance fraud, we are pleased that the OIFP continues to redefine the manner in which government attacks insurance fraud,” said Gooden-Brown.
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