N.Y. Trio Arrested for Collecting Workers’ Comp Benefits Illegally

November 25, 2005

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon announced recently that the DA’s Criminal Frauds Bureau has arrested three individuals who collected workers’ compensation benefits totaling more than $76,939 that they were not entitled to receive.

“Working with the New York State Insurance Department, the New York State Insurance Fund, and the Inspector General of the New York State Workers Compensation Board, my office brought charges against three people for fraudulently claiming $76,939 in Workers’ Compensation benefits,” said Dillon.

“Far from being a victimless crime,” Dillon continued, “insurance fraud is a crime against consumers, who pay the price when they take out a policy and pay the premium. It’s estimated that insurance fraud is costing the average American family over $1,650 each year in increased premiums and taxes.”

The following defendants have been charged:

* Solomon Sorto, 45, of Westbury. In March of 1994, Sorto was awarded workers’ comp benefits as a result of a work related back injury. He was awarded benefits at the rate of $130 per week. These benefits continued until September of 2005. During this period of time, Sorto repeatedly certified that he had not returned to work.

However, from October 1998 to September of 2005, Sorto reportedly worked as a building maintenance worker for A.M. Holding Corporation, a building management company, earning approximately $22,000 to $29,000 per year. He failed to report this employment to the New York State Insurance Fund, thereby fraudulently collecting approximately $47,554 in lost wage benefits to which he was not entitled.

Sorto has been charged with Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, a Class D Felony, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a Class E Felony. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

* Ellen Fennessy, 46, of West Babylon. Fennessy filed a workers’ comp claim in 1984. This claim was filed as the result of an injury that occurred while she was working at Daleview Nursing Home. As a result of this claim, Fennessy received $125 a week in wage replacement from May 6, 1991 through the present.

Between May 2004 and August 2005, Fennessy returned six work attestations to the New York State Insurance Fund, that indicated she had not worked since the accident in 1984. In reality, Fennessy reportedly worked for J&R Meat Farms, 68 Motor Avenue, Farmingdale from January 2004 through January 2005. She also worked at Sav-Way Fuel and Oil company, 269 Union Boulevard, West Islip from January 2005 through August 2005. While she was employed at these locations, she continued to collect workers’ comp benefits. She fraudulently collected $17,625 from the New York State Insurance Fund while she was employed.

Fennessy with three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and one count of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, both Class E Felonies, is looking at punishment of up to four years in prison.

* Dion Lonigro, 40, of Farmingdale. Lonigro claimed to have injured his back and right knee while employed as a driver for Long Island beverage Company. He applied for workers’ comp benefits.

On Sept. 12, 2003, he was classified as temporarily partially disabled. He was authorized to receive benefits of $300 per week. Lonigro could have worked and made up to $150 per week while maintaining his full workers’ comp benefits. Lonigro repeatedly reported he was not working.

In reality, he was working as a painter and making more than $150 a week. Video surveillance reportedly shows that Lonigro was working from March 2004, through January 2005. He never reported he was working and collected approximately $11,760 in benefits during the period he was employed. According to his boss he made approximately $330 per week.

Lonigro has been charged with three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and one count of Workers’ Compensation Fraud, both Class E Felonies.

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