Chiropractor, lawyer charged in accident fraud

Published: 2010-03-02 19:50:53
Author: Nathan Gorenstein | | February 20, 2010

An additional 17 people - for a total of 83 - were charged yesterday in the latest stage of a long-running federal and city investigation into a scheme to fake automobile accidents and then file false insurance claims.

The case dates to 2007, when a tow-truck driver and a now-former city police officer were indicted for soliciting people to participate in fictitious accidents.

The new indictments include charges against a chiropractor, Stephen Rios, 45, of Philadelphia, and an attorney, Glori A. Kasner, 36, of Huntingdon Valley. Others charged yesterday are accused of participating in the fake accidents or fake medical treatment between 2004 and 2007.

U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy said the investigation was continuing. So far, 58 people have pleaded guilty.

The amount paid out by insurance companies in yesterday's alleged fraud was $167,000. The total paid out for fictitious accidents was $634,000, prosecutors said.

Levy said the latest defendants would turn themselves in and would be arraigned later.

Levy, the FBI, city police, and the District Attorney's Office held a news conference to announce the charges. Janice Fedarcyk, the FBI's special agent in charge for Philadelphia, said insurance scams were a "high priority" for her investigators.

"The victims," she said, "are not only companies . . . but honest Americans who pay their annual insurance premiums."

The probe started three years ago when the FBI received a tip about alleged health-care fraud, said agent Bryan Pacchioli. At almost the same time, city police received a tip about fake auto-body-repair claims, said Detective Robert DiFrancesco, who is attached to the District Attorney's Office.

The two scams involved the same people, the two said in an interview.

Pacchioli said the participants allegedly worked within an informal network, with tow-truck drivers knowing which body shops to use, and the fake accident victims learning through fellow participants "which doctors and lawyers would be open to the scheme."

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