A Union County, New Jersey, man and three others were indicted on Oct. 14 for allegedly orchestrating a staged auto accident in Paterson, New Jersey, in 2012 and later seeking more than $48,000 in medical payouts from his insurer, authorities announced.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced that Jonathan L. Desir, Makenson Clermont, Jhonny Volmire and Jana B. Philippe were charged by a state grand jury with second-degree health care claims fraud, second-degree conspiracy, and third-degree attempted theft by deception for their alleged parts in the scam.
Additionally, Desir and Clermont were charged with second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree conspiracy, and third-degree theft by deception for allegedly agreeing to share the cost of the insurance policy then stage a bogus accident to split the claim payout, officials announced. Desir, Clermont, and Philippe were also charged with fourth-degree false swearing for fraudulent statements they allegedly made to investigators.
The indictment alleges that Clermont, Volmire, and an unknown female were in Desir’s Honda Civic when he intentionally drove the car into another vehicle. Neither the other driver, nor the occupants of Desir’s car were hurt and the damage to both vehicles was minimal, according to the indictment.
Subsequently, the three men and Philippe, who assumed the role of the unknown female passenger, each filed a claim for PIP benefits with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and received medical treatment for their alleged injuries, according to the indictment.
Liberty Mutual paid Desir’s $5,736 collision claim, but refused to pay the $48,550 in claims submitted by health care providers. The insurance company referred the matter to the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, which launched an investigation.
“Attempting to cheat insurance companies through staged automobile accidents, as these co-conspirators allegedly tried to do, is both dangerous and costly,” said New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “These individuals not only put themselves at risk through their alleged scam, they put innocent pedestrians and other drivers at risk as well.”
“Law-abiding drivers bear the cost of staged accidents and bogus claims through increased insurance premiums,” New Jersey’s Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi added. “As long as there are people looking to make a quick buck by scamming insurance companies, drivers cannot participate in a fair marketplace.”
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.