Md. Woman Convicted in Auto Accident Scam

June 7, 2005

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced that Darlene Hohl, 61, of Perry Hall pleaded guilty in Harford County Circuit Court to felony insurance fraud. The conviction 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 statement of facts presented by the prosecutor, the court learned that Hohl and others reportedly conspired with Michael J. Horner, former owner of Contemporary Auto in Harford County, to commit insurance fraud by making fraudulent insurance claims for automobile accidents that never occurred.

After receiving insurance settlement checks for these claims, the defendants turned the checks over to Horner who then reportedly paid them a portion of the proceeds. Two other co-conspirators, Janelle Wiegand ,23, and Shannon Smith 23, pleaded guilty to felony insurance fraud in February of this year.

Horner, who has been indicted for felony theft, insurance fraud and conspiring to file numerous fraudulent automobile insurance claims totaling just more than $288,000.00 from January of 2002 through January of 2004, was arrested last week by Federal authorities in Pennsylvania and is presently in federal custody.

Horner’s charges allege that he carried out this scheme by fraudulently switching V.I.N numbers from undamaged vehicles to severely damaged salvage vehicles prior to their presentation to insurance claims adjustors for inspection. No trial date has been set in Horner’s case.

The Honorable Thomas Marshall sentenced Hohl to three years’ incarceration, suspended that sentence and placed her on five years probation and ordered her to pay restitution to the insurance company.

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