A Philadelphia attorney and four others were accused of making fake accident claims that netted $2.5 million over the last 25 years.
Most of the cases involved people slipping and falling on cracked sidewalks outside stores, banks and other businesses, as well as numerous automobile accidents that turned out to be staged, according to a grand jury report released this week.
An insurance investigator tipped off prosecutors after finding out that a slip and fall outside a North Philadelphia bank never happened as reported on Nov. 1, 2002. That led to charges against attorney H. Allen Litt, who faces 31 counts of insurance fraud. Overall, authorities said they found evidence of about 300 cases going back as far as 1981.
District Attorney Lynn Abraham said Litt recruited as many as 100 “runners” to look for holes to fall in and cracks to trip over, and then document the claims for the purported victims, who got $300 to $1,000 per case.
Litt’s meticulous records, which included photographs and records of payment, aided the investigation, Abraham said.
Ten people had already been arrested in the alleged scam. The testimony of several of those defendants helped lead to the charges against Litt.
In some cases, authorities said, Litt found “victims” with existing injuries. Prosecutors also allege Litt sent people to doctors he selected, so they could be diagnosed with soft-tissue injuries. Ten doctors are being investigated in the case, which is ongoing, prosecutors said.
Linda Perkins, chief of the district attorney’s insurance-fraud unit, said investigators believe they can bypass the five-year statute of limitations by showing that cases beyond that period were part of a continuing scheme.
“We are very confident that there will be no claim that he can make that these charges are barred by the statute,” Perkins said.
In addition to the 31 fraud counts, Litt, 58, of Bryn Mawr, was charged with conspiracy, theft by deception, attempted theft by deception, corrupt organizations and other counts.
A message left with Litt’s attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Prosecutors also charged Joshua Pitts, 63, of Philadelphia, who is accused of being Litt’s main runner. Three of Pitts’ 18 children also were charged, as many of the claims were filed by his family, including a van accident that was allegedly staged.
A telephone number for Pitts could not be located and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
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