Philadelphia Official, Auto Body Shop Charged in $400K Fraud
Prosecutors in Philadelphia allege that a city fleet supervisor steered work to an auto body shop that overcharged the city $400,000 for phony or inflated bills.
American Collision is also at the heart of a pending case accusing it of using deer carcasses and other props to stage accidents and collect on insurance claims.
Shop-owner Ronald Galati Sr. is already serving more than 20 years in prison for attempting a failed hit on his daughter’s boyfriend.
Prosecutors alleged Tuesday that Galati and his son, Ronald Galati Jr., didn’t have welding equipment needed to get the city contract, but city fleet supervisor Robert Otterson qualified them for the work and told them how much to bid to win the contract.
Investigators said American Collision was designated a secondary repair facility for overflow repairs work on the city’s fleet of vehicles but was sent many more vehicles than the primary repair facility. They allege that the firm’s repair and labor costs were “fraudulently inflated,” and after Otterson approved them, Galati Sr. “would then share some of the ill-gotten proceeds” with him.
The defendants are charged with theft, criminal conspiracy and tampering with public records or information.
Galati Sr.’s attorney declined comment, saying he had just started reviewing the evidence. Galati Jr’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Otterson attorney Perry DeMarco Sr. declined comment on the charges but said his client would fight them “with full vigor.” He said Otterson was a family man with an unblemished record and he and a co-worker received a certificate of excellence three years ago from the managing director’s office for his work.
Mississippi Woman Accused of Insurance Fraud
A 34-year-old Laurel, Miss., woman has been arrested on a charge of insurance fraud.
Attorney General Jim Hood says Arnisha Dean is accused of making a false and fraudulent statement to her insurance company, United Automobile Insurance Company. Hood said Friday that Dean bought insurance online on a vehicle and minutes later filed a claim for damage to a vehicle that had been wrecked a few hours earlier that same day.
Dean was booked into the Jones County Jail. Her arraignment is set for March 15. It was not immediately known if Dean is represented by an attorney who could comment on her case.
If convicted, she faces up to three years behind bars and $5,000 in fines.
North Carolina Couple Accused of Trying to Defraud Insurance Company
A Fayetteville, N.C., couple is accused by authorities of trying to defraud an insurance company after submitting altered receipts for property they said was stolen.
The Fayetteville Observer reports Maria Alta Bruno and Luidor Lamour are charged with insurance fraud, attempting to obtain property by false pretense and conspiracy. Lamour is facing two additional counts of insurance fraud and attempting to obtain property by false pretense.
Specifically, Bruno and Lamour are accused of submitting written and oral claims to USAA Insurance Co. for an item purchased at H.H. Gregg which actually belonged to someone else.
Lamour is accused of submitting two other claims for items believed to have been stolen.
Bail was set at $5,000 for Bruno and $15,000 for Lamour. It’s not known if they have attorneys.
AP contributed to this content
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