N.J. Woman, Nephew Charged in Auto Scam

July 29, 2005

New Jersey Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy announced that the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has obtained an indictment charging a Cumberland County woman and her nephew with insurance fraud for their roles in an automobile insurance “give up” and arson conspiracy.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Sandra I. Rodriguez, 39, of Vineland, Cumberland County, and her nephew, Jonathan Rodriguez, 26, (l/k/a), Vineland, were charged with conspiracy and aggravated arson (2nd degree), attempted theft by deception, tampering with public records or information, and arson, (3rd degree), and falsifying records (4th degree).

If convicted of all charges, the defendants face more than 25 years in state prison and a criminal fine of more than $300,000. The defendants also face possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

The Cumberland County Grand indictment alleges that between April 12 and July 5, 2003, Sandra Rodriguez and Jonathan Rodriguez conspired to dispose of a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier and submit a false automobile insurance theft claim worth more than $15,000 to Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company.

An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Sandra Rodriguez falsely reported to the Vineland Police Department that her Chevrolet Cavalier had been stolen. Rodriguez also reported the purported theft to Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company.

The investigation further revealed that Jonathan Rodriguez took the Chevrolet Cavalier from Sandra Rodriguez and set it on fire in Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County.

The car was found by the New Jersey State Police less than two hours after it was initially reported stolen. According to the indictment, the steering column was damaged and the ignition had been tampered with. It was reportedly evident that the car had been doused with gasoline and set on fire.

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