Nine people who staged four car crashes in a scheme to defraud insurers of more than $150,000 in Nassau and Suffolk have been convicted, the state attorney general said Friday.
Noting these kinds of frauds that exploit the state’s no-fault law force other drivers to pay higher premiums, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement, “If you attempt to exploit the insurance system for personal gain, you will be punished.”
The ringleader, Guilberto Jean of Wyandanch, recruited drivers and passengers by promising them cash or “lucrative” settlements for personal injuries, Schneiderman said.
From 2010 to 2015, the defendants rented moving company trucks and “then intentionally drove them into cars operated by other participants,” he said.
The drivers and the people in the cars that were struck lied to the police officers who responded, claiming the collisions were real, Schneiderman said.
The ringleader sent them to be treated for their “purported soft tissue injuries” at Freeport Medical or ZSA Medical Care in Valley Stream, he said.
The two clinics and other providers filed $30,000 claims for each collision.
New York’s no-fault law protects crash victims by obliging insurers to cover a wide range of medical and health services, for as much as $50,000 per person, Schneiderman said.
And victims might also be able to collect from insurers by suing for bodily injuries.
On Friday, the case ended after Troy Russell of Amityville, who drove rental trucks in two crashes — in December 2010 in Babylon and in June 2011 on Straight Path in Suffolk — was sentenced to 1 3⁄4 to 3 1⁄2 years in prison and $7,500 restitution by Justice William C. Donnino in Nassau County Court.
He had pleaded guilty to grand larceny and two counts of insurance fraud, which were felonies.
In May, Jean was convicted of three counts of insurance fraud, which were felonies, and three counts of grand larceny.
His sentence was 6 months in jail, 5 years’ probation, $28,000 in restitution and 300 hours of community service.
The other two crashes were staged in October 2010 in Bay Shore and in June 2011 in Hempstead.
The seven other defendants pleaded guilty to various criminal charges including grand and petty larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.