N.Y. Dad Admits Helping Son with Car Insurance Scam

A 57-year-old man admitted pulling off an insurance scam with his son, a former college student who faces up to 157 years in prison for federal drug and weapons crimes.

Gerald Thomas Sr., of Norwich, pleaded guilty this week in Syracuse, N.Y. to mail fraud in U.S. District Court, said U.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby.

Thomas’s sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 14. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Thomas was allowed to remain free on bail until his sentencing.

Thomas admitted helping his son, Gregory Thomas, in an insurance fraud scheme in July 2003. The younger Thomas tried to sink a 1994 Volkswagen Jetta in an isolated pond, report it stolen and collect insurance proceeds. Authorities, however, discovered the scheme and recovered the car from the pond.

Gregory Thomas, 26, was convicted last month by a federal court jury on multiple counts, including insurance fraud. Other charges involved drug-trafficking and weapons. The same jury convicted his brother, Gerald Thomas Jr., 25.

Gregory Thomas was identified as the ringleader of a gang of drug dealers — mostly college students — who sometimes posed as police to steal drugs from other dealers in the Syracuse and Albany areas. He was convicted of possessing a quarter-pound of C-4 plastic explosives and stolen firearms and trying to hire someone for $10,000 to murder a victim of one of the drug robberies.

At the time of the crimes, Gregory was a student at LeMoyne College, a Jesuit school in Syracuse, while Gerald Jr. was attending College of St. Rose in Albany, Suddaby said.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin will sentence the brothers on Oct. 17. Gregory Thomas faces a mandatory minimum of 157 years, while the charges against his younger brother carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 57 years, Suddaby said. Both are being held without bail.