Former N.J. Insurance Employee Sentenced in Scam

September 12, 2005

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn McKoy announced that a State Farm Insurance Company employee has been sentenced to county jail and was made responsible for paying more $19,300 after pleading guilty to creating fraudulent insurance claim checks.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Lola Ruth Byrd, 38, of Plainfield, Union County, was ordered by Union County Superior Court Judge John Triarsi to serve 220 days in county jail, followed by three years probation and to pay $2,500 in restitution. In addition, Byrd signed a Consent Judgement ordering her to repay more than $19,300. The sentence was pursuant to Byrd’s Feb. 14 guilty plea to theft by deception.

At the guilty plea hearing in front of Judge Triarsi, Byrd, a State Farms Insurance Company claims service assistant, reportedly admitted that between Dec. 19, 2001 and Feb. 15, 2002, while employed in the company’s Cranford Fire Insurance Division, she generated 10 State Farm Insurance drafts payable to another person, Sherman McNeil.

According to the March 31, 2004 indictment, McNeil had no connection to any of the old property loss files that Byrd accessed to create the phony claims checks. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Byrd would access closed claims files, create fraudulent insurance claims checks as if McNeil had sustained property losses and was entitled to insurance claim money, and then immediately close the claims files.

The investigation further determined that, in addition to her computer terminal, Byrd would generate the false claims on a co-worker’s computer terminal and also the main switchboard terminal.

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