2008 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame

February 2, 2009

A serial home arsonist, an elected judge who made phony auto injury claims, and dentists who did worthless root canals on children were among the nine swindlers elected to the Insurance Hall of Shame.

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s Hall of Shame reveals the previous year’s largest, most-brazen or dumbest insurance schemes. Insurance fraud is an $80-billion crime annually, and has grown more violent and invasive in recent years. The No-Class of 2008 reflects that trend.

Burning with desire. Kenneth Allen led an arson ring that torched 50 homes and hauled in millions in bogus insurance claims in the Indianapolis and Muncie areas. Allen’s gang usually bought low-priced homes and loaded them with used furniture to inflate the claims. Allen even had a crooked insurance adjuster help inflate claims. Allen received four years.

Judging the judge. Appellate judge Michael Joyce collected $440,000 from auto insurers after lying that a 5 mph bumper bender nearly crippled him. But the Pennsylvania jurist got his pilot license and flew airplanes, was an avid golfer, went roller blading, and tried scuba diving in the Caribbean. Joyce will be sentenced in 2009.

Triathlon tricks. Samuel Aaron Brabson claimed a car crash left him nearly crippled and largely confined to a wheelchair. The Richmond, Va., man made more than $1.2 million in disability claims. But all along, Brabson competed in triathlons and took girlfriends on mountain hikes. He received one year.

Truth decay. Children had teeth pulled and painful root canals done at North Carolina clinics owned by two dentists. At least two kids each had 16 root canals and steel crowns. The dentists bilked Medicaid out of millions. Letitia Ballance and Michael DeRose paid $10 million to settle federal civil charges.

Revenge run amok.Serving 11 years for health-insurance fraud, Dr. Ira Klein plotted to kill those who he thought had sent him away. The Houston physician tried to pay a hitman to have his wife shot, a federal prosecutor run over by a truck, and acid thrown in an FBI agent’s face. The FBI stopped the plot in time.

Babbling crook. Michael Paul Schook told so many people he’d burn down his Suffield, Conn., home for insurance money that it seemed half the town knew. At least three people turned him in after he kept saying how easy the scheme would be to get away with. Schook received seven years.

Sinister seniors. Two elderly women befriended a pair of homeless men in Los Angeles then took out $3 million in life policies, naming themselves as beneficiaries. Helen Golay and Olga Rutterschmidt then had cars run down Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid in dark alleys. Both women received life.

Non-working comp.Thousands of employees had no workers’ compensation protection when three men helped sell fake policies to small businesses. The scheme stole at least $70 million in premiums. One injured worker couldn’t afford a prosthetic leg. Another lost his home and marriage. A grandmother lost her home and lived in her car. Donald Touchet received 22 years, Robert Standridge 18 years and Robert Jennings 15 years.

Skin deep scheme. Michigan skin doctor Robert Stokes inflated claims while exposing thousands of patients potentially to HIV and hepatitis by reusing sutures, scalpels and syringes without proper cleaning. Stokes also removed minor lesions by lying to scared patients they had cancer. Stokes stole at least $1 million insurance money, and received 10 years in federal prison.

To view the complete 2008 Hall of Shame report, visit www.InsuranceFraud.org.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

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