N.J. Attorneys End Up on Wrong Side of Law; Charged Under State’s ‘Runners’ Statute

April 14, 2005

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that two Essex County attorneys and their West Orange law firm have been charged in a State Grand Jury indictment with paying more than $65,000 to “runners” as part of a scheme designed to solicit clients and substantially increase the amount of insurance claims, lawsuits, and other legal actions initiated by the law firm and its attorneys.

It is also alleged that the law practice mischaracterized certain deductions and, as a result, the indictment charged that the law firm filed inaccurate tax returns. The attorneys are the first members of the legal community to be charged by the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor under New Jersey’s “runners” statute.

According to Vaughn McKoy, director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, the eight-count indictment charged two Essex County attorney’s and four other individuals with multiple counts of conspiracy, violation of the “runners” statute, and tax violations.

Charged in the State Grand Jury indictment were:

* Irwin B. Seligsohn Esq., 68, Kinnelon, Morris County. Charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, use of a runner, and filing or preparing false or fraudulent New Jersey tax returns;
* Allen S. Goldberger Esq., 71, Livingston, Essex County. Charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of filing or preparing false or fraudulent New Jersey tax returns;
* Louis Campbell, 60, Newark Essex County. Alleged “runner,” charged with conspiracy and use of a runner;
* Edward Campbell, a/k/a Edward Campbell, Jr., 35, Newark, Essex County. Alleged “runner,” charged with conspiracy, use of a runner, and failure to pay or turn over taxes;
* Richard Williams, 51, Irvington, Essex County. Alleged “runner,” charged with conspiracy and use of a runner; and
* Damon Brown, 31, Newark, Essex County. Alleged “runner,” charged with conspiracy and use of a runner.

The indictment also charged that the law firm of Goldberger, Seligsohn & Shinrod, located in West Orange, Essex County, was used to further the alleged conspiracy. The charges contained in the indictment are third degree crimes and carry a maximum sentence of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000 per count.

All of the defendants face possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act. The indictment will be referred to the Office of Attorney Ethics for appropriate action with respect to Seligsohn and Goldberger’s licenses to practice law.

The State Grand Jury indictment alleges that between January 1998 through May, 2002, Seligsohn conspired with and paid “runners” (Edward and Louis Campbell, Williams and Brown) more than $65,000 to solicit individuals purportedly injured in automobile accidents. Through the solicitations, accident victims would retain Seligsohn as their lawyer and, in turn, Seligsohn and his law firm would file insurance claims and legal actions.

A “runner” is paid by a licensed professional, such as an attorney or medical practitioner, to solicit persons injured in auto accidents. The goal of using “runners” is to bolster the submission of insurance claims, legal actions and medical treatments. New Jersey’s criminal “runners” statute, passed into law in 1999, criminalized the use of “runners” by lawyers, health care professionals, and their employees.

As part of the investigation, the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor conducted an undercover investigation wherein undercover State Investigators and Newark police officers were introduced to Seligsohn as accident victims in exchange for payment to the “runners.” As a result of the undercover investigation, a search warrant was executed at Seligsohn’s law office in August, 2004 for books and records related to the alleged illegal activity.

The indictment was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg, the Assignment Judge in charge of the State Grand Jury, on April 11. The case will be assigned to the Essex County Superior Court for trial. The defendants will be issued complaint summons requiring them to appear in Court for arraignment and bail.

“The Legislature recognized that runners are the driving force in many automobile accident insurance fraud cases,”said Gooden-Brown. “The use of runners has a domino effect on the insurance industry – runners are paid to procure patients and clients. Runners, in turn, stage accidents and urge people who are not injured to be treated for injuries. They then bribe policemen for auto accident reports and engage in other fraudulent conduct which drives up the cost of auto insurance in this State. This office will prosecute persons who pay runners and persons who act as runners to the fullest extent of the law.”

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