- Acting Attorney General Anne Milgram and
Division of Criminal Justice Director Gregory
A. Paw announced that a Hudson County man
has been sentenced for his role in an auto
insurance theft and arson conspiracy.
to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden
Brown, Michael Steele, 35, of Kearny, was
ordered by Superior Court Judge Michael
R. Casale of Essex County to serve two years
probation and to pay $3,000 in fines and
restitution. The sentence follows Steele’s
July 21 guilty plea to a criminal accusation
which charged conspiracy and arson, both
in the third-degree.
admitted that between Sept. 6 and Sept.
27, 2001, he conspired with Walter Francis,
38, of Bayonne, for Francis to “give
up” his 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier and
for Steele to set it on fire so Francis
could submit a false auto insurance theft
claim. Steele admitted burning the automobile
on the CONRAIL railroad tracks in Newark.
Steele is the husband of Francis’
July 11, Francis pleaded guilty to conspiracy
and theft by deception, both in the third
degree. On Sept. 8, he was ordered by Judge
Casale to pay more than $10,800 in fines
and restitution. Francis admitted he initiated
the “give up” to have the insurance
company pay off his car loan. He reported
the car stolen to the Jersey City Police
and submitted an insurance claim for $6,896.
State Investigator Matthew Michalik, Civil
Investigator Michael Trupkiewicz and Deputy
Attorney General Robert J. Brass investigated
with assistance from State Investigator
Thomas Ference and N.J. State Police Trooper
Terrance Tennant. Brass prosecuted the case.
Brown noted that some important cases have
started with anonymous tips. People who
are concerned about insurance cheating and
have information about a fraud can report
it anonymously by calling the toll-free
or visiting the Web at www.NJInsuranceFraud.org.
State regulations permit an award to be
paid to an eligible person who provides
information that leads to an arrest, prosecution
and conviction for insurance fraud.
Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor was
established by the Automobile Insurance
Cost Reduction Act of 1998. The office is
the centralized state agency that investigates
and prosecutes both civil and criminal insurance
fraud, as well as Medicaid fraud.