Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2010 Chiropractor, Lawyer, and 15 Others Charged in Phony Accident Scheme

Chiropractor, Lawyer, and 15 Others Charged in Phony Accident Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 19, 2010
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania (215) 861-8200

PHILADELPHIA—A chiropractor and an attorney are among the 17 people charged by indictment with mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud insurance companies by staging phony automobile accidents, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk.

According to the indictment, the defendants willingly filed false accident reports in order to receive free medical care and in an attempt to receive civil settlement payments. The accident “victims” allegedly would file fraudulent insurance claims after staging phony accidents or falsely representing that an automobile accident  occurred when it had not. The indictment further alleges that certain defendants obtained false police reports from a then-active Philadelphia police officer, recruited participants to be named drivers and passengers in these fictitious accidents, referred alleged accident “victims” to a chiropractor and attorneys, and demanded kickbacks from civil settlement awards. These defendants also allegedly provided a false story for the accident “victims” to tell the chiropractor, lawyer, and insurance company. In some cases, it is alleged that, in order to make the vehicles look like they had been in a real accident, the cars or trucks were intentionally damaged at an auto body shop or by driving them into a wall.

“This entire group presents a sorry picture of people who forgot the basic principle that lying to get money is stealing,” said Levy. “In the case of the attorney and the chiropractor, they are members of  professions that demand honesty of their practitioners. Nevertheless, they were comfortable making up facts to make a buck.”

Dr. Stephen Rios, a Philadelphia chiropractor, is charged with 23 counts of mail fraud for his alleged role in falsifying patient treatment records and billing for fictitious services, purportedly provided to alleged accident victims, in order to obtain more money for himself, and in order to obtain higher civil settlements for the alleged accident victims. The indictment also charges attorney Glori A. Kasner with mail fraud related to two of these schemes, alleging that she helped to fraudulently obtain civil settlement payments in those cases for people who had not been in accidents.

“This indictment comes from the hard work and joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and District Attorney's office,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “And I am extremely proud of the results.”

“Insurance fraud is an insidious crime that victimizes not only the companies that pay out fraudulently-obtained settlements, but also victimizes each and every American who pays their insurance premiums every month,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk, of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. “The FBI places a high priority on investigating these types of insurance schemes, particularly when we uncover alleged schemes as complex and far-reaching as we have seen in this continuing investigation, and in these indictments announced today.”

Insurance companies allegedly victimized by these schemes include MetLife, Cambridge, State Farm, Allstate, Safe Auto, AIG, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, Rutgers, Nationwide, Erie, Proformance, and USAA. It is alleged that loss amounts paid out by insurance companies for property damage, medical expenses, and civil settlements for these fictitious accidents was over $634,000. The specific loss charged in this indictment is over $167,000.

INFORMATION REGARDING THE DEFENDANTS

NAME

ADDRESS

AGE OR YEAR OF BIRTH

Stephen Rios

Philadelphia PA

45

Wallace Morris

Philadelphia PA

43

Jermaine Blassengale

Philadelphia, PA

32

Glen Britton

Sewell, NJ

47

Walter Burnett

Philadelphia, PA

33

Fabian Fisher

Philadelphia, PA

40

Byron Gooden

Philadelphia, PA

42

Earl Haines

Philadelphia, PA

36

Glori Kasner

Huntington Valley, PA

36

Mark Miller

Philadelphia, PA

41

Lisa Outlaw

Philadelphia PA

41

Anthony Pollitt

Magnolia, NJ

41

Larry Richardson

Philadelphia, PA

40

Tommy Rippy

Philadelphia, PA

50

Michael Sealey

Philadelphia, PA

24

Reynaldo Rivera

Croydon, PA

39

Patrick Watson

Bellmawr NJ

52

 

This indictment is the latest charging document arising out of a long-term joint investigation conducted by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Insurance Fraud Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To this point, 58 defendants connected with the case have pleaded guilty in state court, with two others awaiting trial.An additional eight defendants have been convicted or have pleaded guilty in federal court, including three defendants prominently mentioned in this indictment: former Philadelphia police officer Drexel Reid, Daniel Cupaiuolo, and Jerry Blassengale. Reid and Cupaiuolo await sentencing. Blassengale received an 87-month sentence for numerous counts of mail fraud, and after a conviction for assaulting the investigators in this case when they tried to arrest him.

If convicted, the maximum possible sentence for each mail fraud count is 20 years’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, mandatory restitution, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Wzorek.

An Indictment or Information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.