News

Who drove crashed SUV? New York cop allegedly lies wife drove
May 23, 2019, Tonawanda, NY -- A suspended Town of Tonawanda police officer pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of falsifying business records and insurance fraud stemming from a January motor vehicle crash. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said Howard M. Scholl III, 36, falsely claimed his wife was at the wheel of a SUV that struck an Uber vehicle late on the night of Jan. 19. In truth, Scholl was driving the SUV, Flynn said. Scholl, who was a police officer and a member of his department's SWAT team at the time of the incident, was arraigned on the misdemeanor charges in Amherst Town Court. ...

Cajun says pickup stolen, allegedly dumps and burns it
May 23, 2019, Oakdale, LA -- An Oakdale man has been arrested for setting fire to a truck in August 2018. Harley Dixon, 25, was booked into the Allen Parish Jail on Tuesday, May 21, on one count each of arson with intent to defraud, theft and insurance fraud. On May 22, 2019, Dixon was located and taken into custody. In an interview with investigators, Dixon admitted he was going through financial hardships at the time of the vehicle fire, but again provided conflicting stories about his timeline the night of the fire. He was then booked on the outstanding warrants. In the early morning hours of August 22, 2018, a ...

Cabin complex burns in Colorado, arson suspected
May 23, 2019, Pinon Court, CO -- Charges of insurance fraud have been filed against the proprietor of Pinon Court Cabins and three others in the criminal case related to the 2017 fire at the U.S. Highway 24 business, according to a news release issued by the Buena Vista Police Department Thursday afternoon. The 11th Judicial District Attorney's office filed insurance fraud against Seldon Turnbull, 51, his son Damien Turnbull, 25, Serenety Nilsen, 22, and Joshua Lorenz, 30, the release from BVPD chief Jimmy Tidwell said. The charges were filed Thursday morning. According to affidavits obtained by The Mountain Mail, each of the four defendants have been charged with ...

2,900 fake painkiller scripts filled by Pittsburgh woman
May 23, 2019, Pittsburg, PA -- A Pittsburgh woman pleaded guilty to illegally filling 92 fake prescriptions to obtain more than 2,900 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Joyce Gallagher, 53, was arrested and charged in November 2018 after an investigation revealed she was writing fake prescriptions from an oral surgery practice under the names of her relatives. “Prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, are the jet fuel of the heroin and opioid crisis that is devastating Pennsylvania communities,” said Shapiro in a press release. “I’m grateful for the hard work of our Insurance Fraud Section and Bureau of Narcotics Investigations to stop the ...

Pennsylvania cop charged with falsely accusing agents of scam
May 22, 2019, North Braddock, PA -- A police officer is facing charges after he allegedly handcuffed two salesmen who showed up at his home while he was off duty. Part-time North Braddock Police Officer Sharon Jackson was removed from the schedule Monday, according to fellow officers. He’s served on the force for about a year. He’s facing charges from an incident that allegedly happened at his Penn Hills home on Cedarwood Drive in April. Police say Jackson was off-duty and called Penn Hills police after two men came to his home to sell life insurance. Both men were handcuffed behind their backs and sitting on the couch in the ...

Philly woman shops on website selling fake health insurance
May 22, 2019, Philadelphia, PA -- It started with a click. Determined to cross “buy health insurance” off her list, Robin Allen sat down at her computer last fall and Googled the federal government website where consumers can enroll in plans that meet coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. She typed in some basic health information, her phone number, and within minutes her phone was ringing. Allen was impressed that an agent was available to help her at 9:30 p.m. She went to bed enrolled in a plan the agent promised had no deductible, low-cost vision and dental coverage, and all the doctors she’d need — all ...

Owner of Anchorage assisted living home business sentenced for medicaid fraud
May 22, 2019, Anchorag, AK -- The owner of an Anchorage assisted living home business has been sentenced after she and three others were accused of stealing over $1 million from Alaska's Medicaid program. Margaret Williams, of Flamingo Eye LLC, was sentenced Monday to serve a term of 18 months in jail, with an additional three and a half years suspended, totaling a potential sentence of up to five years. According to a release from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson's office, her corporation was sentenced to a $2,050,000 fine. The state also asked the judge to issue a $1.1 million restitution order to compensate for the funds that Williams ...

Podiatrist to pay $966,000 for fraudulent assisted living billing
May 22, 2019, Tucson, AZ -- An Arizona podiatrist has been sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $965,985 in restitution to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after he admitted submitting false claims for care provided to assisted living residents, the Justice Department said Tuesday. Loren Wessel was sentenced May 17 after having previously pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud. From 2008 through June 2016, the Justice Department said, Wessel regularly provided routine foot care for assisted living residents in and near Tucson, AZ. He fraudulently billed Medicare for “more complex and significantly more expensive services” that he had not performed, however, the department ...

WNY developer accused in mortgage & insurance scheme
May 22, 2019, Buffalo, NY -- The man considered to be Western New York's largest property owner is facing dozens of federal charges linked to a mortgage and insurance fraud scheme. Robert Morgan, CEO of Morgan Management, Pittsford, New York, pleaded not guilty in Federal Court in Buffalo Wednesday. The Rochester-based developer had no comment as he left the federal court house today. Morgan pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to federal charges accusing him and three other men, including his son, of a half-billion dollar mortgage fraud scheme. At a news briefing following Morgan's arraignment, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy announced on the 114-count superseding indictment. It names ...

Prescription fraud case court appearance postponed
May 22, 2019, Camden, NJ -- A court appearance scheduled next week for seven South Jersey residents charged in an ongoing $50 million compounding medication fraud case has been postponed. Originally slated for Wednesday, a status conference in U.S. District Court has been moved to 3 p.m. June 19 before Judge Robert B. Kugler due to a conflict in the court calendar, according to court records. Those charged include: William Hickman, 42, a pharmaceutical sales representative, and his wife, Sara, 42, of Northfield. Brian Pugh, 41, of Absecon, co-owner of Tony’s Baltimore Grill and owner of BP Med 1 LLC Thomas Schallus, 42, a Ventnor police officer, who was allegedly recruited ...

Doc steals colleague’s ID to score 2K pain pills in West Virginia
May 22, 2019, Clarksburg, WV -- Authorities say a West Virginia physician has pleaded guilty to writing fraudulent prescriptions so he could get drugs. U.S. Attorney Bill Powell on Tuesday said Chad Poage has admitted to writing 30 fraudulent prescriptions between November 2015 and March 2018. Prosecutors say Poage obtained a total of nearly 2,000 pills by using his colleagues' drug registration numbers when writing prescriptions. Most of the pills were painkillers. A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia says he also used stolen driver's licenses when he picked up the fraudulently prescribed drugs from pharmacies in the area of Morgantown. As ...

Faking crash time earns Idaho driver a fraud conviction
May 22, 2019, Kootenai County, ID -- Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced a Kootenai County woman was sentenced on Tuesday, May 21, for insurance fraud. A jury found 32-year-old Zoe R. Barham, of Rathdrum, guilty in March. First District Court Judge Cynthia Meyer sentenced Barham to a unified sentence of five years with two years fixed and three years indeterminate. The court then suspended the sentence and ordered Barham to serve three years of felony probation and 24 days in jail. The defendant must pay $1,402 in restitution to the Idaho Department of Insurance, as well as court costs. Barham purchased an auto insurance policy with Progressive on the ...

Prominent upstate New York landlord indicted for fraud
May 22, 2019, Buffalo, NY -- Prominent upstate New York landlord Robert Morgan was charged Wednesday in a 114-count federal indictment with inflating property values in his expansive real estate portfolio to secure more than $500 million in loans. The indictment also named Morgan’s son, Todd Morgan, and two other principals of his Pittsford-based Morgan Management, LLC. The Morgans, along with broker Frank Giacobbe and former finance director Michael Tremiti, pleaded not guilty Wednesday. “Today’s charges allege Robert Morgan and the men he surrounded himself with in business worked hard with the desire to creatively subvert the integrity of the financial industry,” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert said at ...

Carolina woman allegedly lies Florence debris damages home
May 22, 2019, Rocky Mount, NC -- A Rocky Mount woman pleaded guilty to getting federal disaster assistance she wasn't entitled to, while a Goldsboro woman is charged with making up hurricane damage in order to bilk her insurance company, authorities said Wednesday. Sheila Ruffin, 50, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of disaster fraud related to the Hurricane Matthew recovery effort conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, authorities said. Ruffin submitted fraudulent documents to FEMA and collected more than $11,000 in rental assistance between January 2017 and January 2018 to which she wasn't entitled, they said. She will be sentenced later. Meanwhile, agents with the state Department of Insurance ...

District Attorney's health fraud unit says healthcare fraud is prevalent in Kern County
May 21, 2019, Kern County, CA -- 23ABC's Mike Hart sat down with Deputy District Attorney Andi Bridges to discuss the District Attorney's Health Fraud Unit and the prevalence of health care fraud in Kern County. ...

Attorneys argue for guilt, acquittal in prescription drug trail of former Casper doctor
May 21, 2019, Casper, WY -- In the final pitch to the jury about to deliberate the fate of former Casper Dr. Shakeel Kahn, the prosecution bluntly characterized the pain management specialist accused of running a multi-state prescription drug conspiracy as a magician. "The defendant is a fraud, a trickster, an illusionist," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Sprecher said during her hour-and-a-half closing argument on the 17th day of the trial in federal court in Casper on Tuesday. "What the defendant is is nothing more than a drug dealer with [a white coat] and a pen," Sprecher said. In the final pitch to the jury about to deliberate the fate ...

Contractor gambles at casinos while alleged victims seek repay
May 21, 2019, Jacksonville, FL -- After the I-TEAM spotted Jacksonville contractor and insurance fraud suspect Wyatt Green betting thousands of dollars at a poker room while out of jail on bond, the State Attorney's Office has had his bond conditions changed to keep him from betting or gambling while his case moves forward through the court system. Green, the owner of Storm Restoration Specialists, LLC or Storm RS, was arrested last month by insurance fraud investigators with Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis' office and charged with felony forgery, fraud and grand theft. Investigators say Green and his staff members forged homeowners' signatures and used stamps purchased online with ...

Florida man lives off life money for decades after killing wife
May 21, 2019, Jacksonville, FL -- He entered the courtroom in a green uniform, an outfit for those who are no longer free. Gone were the nice suits that he wore during his trial. Gone was his confidence. Michael Haim’s wrists and legs were bound by shackles. He stood Tuesday before Judge Steven Whittington, who presided over his trial and told him he would spend the rest of his life in prison. The sentence, though common for killers of today, was a departure from the sentencing guidelines in place in 1993 when Haim killed his wife, Bonnie. The 52-year-old lived off his dead wife’s life insurance policy for ...

California chiro bills 250 patients for false food allergy tests
May 21, 2019, Daly City, CA -- A licensed chiropractor who worked out of an office in Daly City pleaded no contest Monday to felony insurance fraud and other charges related to a food allergy test that he offered even though it was not covered by insurance companies and has not been proven effective, prosecutors said. Benjamin Zimberoff Darrow, 48, pleaded not guilty to insurance fraud, the unlicensed practice of medicine, illegal laboratory markup and the theft of over $100,000, and faces up to two years in prison, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. Darrow operated three businesses out of the same office -- ...

Arizona foot doc inflates bills for routine procedures
May 21, 2019, Tucson, AZ -- A suspended Tucson podiatrist is headed to prison for two years and must repay nearly $1 million to the federal government for submitting bogus claims to Medicare over an eight-year period. Loren Scott Wessel, 55, was sentenced in federal court in Tucson last week after pleading guilty in a plea deal to health-care fraud, his second felony conviction in two years. In the latest case, Wessel hatched “a scheme to defraud Medicare out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” between 2008 and 2016, said a news release Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona. “As part of his practice, Wessel regularly provided ...

Accountant steals Jersey broker’s premiums in $900K con
May 21, 2019, Bergen County, NJ -- A former bookkeeper for a Bergen County-based insurance broker was sentenced to more than 2 years in federal prison for embezzling $900,000 from her employer over seven years through fraudulent accounting entries, authorities said. Violeta McGough, 57, of Bergenfield, pleaded guilty to wire fraud. In addition to 27 months in prison, she faces three years of supervised release under the sentence levied Monday in federal court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. McGough was an accounting specialist for the Ridgefield Park insurance broker, which was not named in the criminal complaint, and used her access to the company’s books to steal money from ...

Sting reels in 17 allegedly unlicensed Florida contractors
May 20, 2019, Sarasota County, FL -- Seventeen people who the sheriff’s office says were doing contract work without a license are facing charges following a sting operation in Sarasota County. This is in addition to the six people the sheriff’s office arrested in April. Detectives teamed up with the Sarasota County Building Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to reach out to people who were advertising home repair services that require a license to complete. “The aim of this operation is for the people that are doing the wrong thing that we’re out there to ...

9 homes flooded, torched for $1.7M in Texas
May 20, 2019, Port Arthur, TX -- From U.S. Attorney's Office - A 50-year-old Port Arthur, Texas man has pleaded guilty to charges related to an insurance fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today. Patrick Wayne Bronnon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and use of a fire in commission of a felony today before U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone. According to information presented in court, beginning in 2011, Bronnon, and others, began executing a scheme to defraud various insurance companies through fraudulent claims on homes and vehicles. The scheme involved identifying a low value property and purchasing ...

Washington couple allegedly buys coverage after crash
May 20, 2019, Marysville, WA -- A Marysville couple were charged with insurance fraud that stemmed from a false auto insurance claim, the Snohomish County Superior Court announced Monday. Brittany Jones and Steven Jones were each charged with one count of filing a false insurance claim May 14, following an investigation by the Washington State Insurance Commission's Criminal Investigations Unit. According to the investigation, the couple added a 2011 Ford Escape to their Geico insurance policy at 6:08 a.m. June 18. They filed a claim of $11,273 for a collision they said happened 20 minutes after they purchased the new policy. GEICO found records that the ...

Fake cancer screening dupes Washington senior
May 20, 2019, Spokane, WA -- If you get a call from someone offering a free cancer screening, turn them down. These tests aren't free and they need to be performed by your doctor, if you actually need one. Unfortunately, North Spokane's Kathleen Murbach realized all this too late. She ended up giving a caller personal information about her health, including account numbers and more. Murbach says she got a call from someone who said she was eligible through Medicare for a free Cancer Screening Test. A swab would be mailed to her, she'd use it and then mail it back. Murbach says cancer runs in her family, so ...