If police are right … foot doc Ira Bernstein tried to use Mafia-style head-knocking to beat up two insurance-fraud investigators and throw them off the track.
Bernstein and his girlfriend allegedly met with someone they thought was a hitman to kill his wife Susan — and rough up the investigators. The investigators were looking into whether he’d bilked health insurers.
The supposed hitman was a snitch who spilled the suspected plot to police.
Cleverly … police applied makeup so the investigators would look mugged. The snitch then showed Bernstein and his girlfriend the seemingly grisly photos to string the suspects along.
They could be innocent; that’ll come out in court.
Yet the case shines a light on something that should challenge many people’s belief that insurance fraud is a tame, white-collar prank.
Against investigators … judges … witnesses … and other hardworking folks just trying to do fair justice.
An unhinged insurance agent shot and killed two fraud investigators who were looking into his practices. Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge were with the Louisiana insurance department. John Melvin Lavergne gunned them down at his agency, then shot himself.
Insurance regulators around the U.S. beefed up procedures for how investigators can stay safer in vulnerable situations such as when visiting a suspect’s office or home.
Sallie Rohrbach died doing her duty as well. She was an auditor with the North Carolina insurance department. A troubled agent clubbed her to death with a chair while she was in his office looking into possible theft of client premiums.
Tyesha Towanda Roberts offered to hired someone to shoot a witness involving insurance torchings of a home and two vehicles. The Baltimore woman wanted $10,000 to set up the murder. A cohort decided that her proposed hitman couldn’t be trusted. He offered to help shoot the witness himself. Except that Roberts and her cohort were spilling the plot to an undercover officer. Roberts will be sentenced in August 2016.
Nightclub insurer mogul Jeffrey Cohen plotted to rub out the judge overseeing the insurer’s liquidation.
Cohen deceived regulators into thinking his fizzling insurance empire was financially solid.
A former nightclub bouncer, Cohen drew up a hit list of Maryland and Delaware officials involved with his case. And driving directions to the home of the judge overseeing the insurer’s liquidation.
Seven assault weapons were seized at Cohen’s home. “Society needs to look at the fact that killing isn’t wrong in certain circumstances, and killing culls the weak,” he said in the recording. Cohen was handed 37 years in federal prison.
So when you think of insurance fraud as a soft and forgettable crime … just visit Sallie Rohrbach’s grave. She’s buried in Raleigh Memorial Park in Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
About the author: Jim Quiggle is director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.