- Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal
Justice Director Deborah L. Gramiccioni announced
that a former Essex County insurance company
employee pleaded guilty today to conspiring
to steal more than $94,100 through fraudulent
disability insurance claims.
According to Acting Insurance
Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, LaShondrea Tucker,
32, of Plainfield, pleaded guilty before Superior
Court Judge Michael A. Petrolle in Essex County
to second-degree insurance fraud, a charge
contained in a Dec. 18, 2008 state grand jury
Judge Petrolle scheduled Tucker’s
sentencing for Sept. 23. The state will recommend
a sentence of five years in state prison.
of Tucker’s co-defendants – Erick
Streeter, Louise Fedrick and Deborah Ruffin
are also scheduled to be sentenced on Sept.
23. Streeter, 44, of Newark, pleaded guilty
in April to third-degree theft by deception.
Fedrick, 40, of Irvington, pleaded guilty
in April to third-degree forgery. And Ruffin,
49, of Newark, pleaded guilty on June 18 to
third-degree theft by deception. All of the
charges were contained in the Dec. 18, 2008
state grand jury indictment.
In pleading guilty, Tucker,
who was employed as a disability claims manager
for Prudential Insurance Company, admitted
that between Sept. 22, 2003 and March 23,
2004, she created fraudulent disability claims
using the names and other identifiers of actual
people enrolled in a teachers’ disability
plan. Tucker admitted that she diverted 21
checks and two electronic fund transfers totaling
Tucker admitted that she issued
the diverted checks, which totaled $66,700,
in the names of the insured individuals and
sent them to Streeter. Streeter engaged Fedrick
and Ruffin to assist him with the cashing
of the claims checks. Fedrick admitted to
forging the signatures on the checks for deposit.
The investigation further revealed that Tucker
opened an Internet bank account with Net Bank.
Two electronic fund transfers in the approximate
amount of $27,400 were subsequently deposited
into the Net Bank account representing fraudulent
sick pay from Prudential Insurance Company.
Detective Weldon Powell, Civil
Investigator Robert Brescia and Deputy Attorney
General Joan M. Burke were assigned to the
investigation. Burke represented the state
at the guilty plea hearing. This case was
referred to OIFP by the Special Investigative
Unit of the Prudential Insurance Company which
initially uncovered the fraud and assisted
OIFP in the investigation. Acting Prosecutor
Dagli thanked Prudential for its assistance
in this matter.