- Attorney General Stuart Rabner and Division
of Criminal Justice Director Gregory A.
Paw announced that three West Orange women
were indicted today for their alleged roles
in an automobile insurance “jump-in”
According to Insurance Fraud
Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Noemi Romero,
46, and her relatives Argelia Romero, 54,
and Maria Romero, 92, all residing on Elm
Street in West Orange, were each charged
with conspiracy and health care claims fraud,
both in the second degree, as well as attempted
theft by deception and tampering with public
records, both in the third degree.
The Mercer County grand
jury indictment alleges that following a
minor car accident on Nov. 20, 2004 in West
Orange, Noemi Romero, the driver of one
of the vehicles, agreed with Maria Romero
and Argelia Romero to claim that they were
passengers in her car and were injured in
the accident. In fact, they were not passengers
at the time. There was an adult male passenger
in the front of the car and a child in the
rear seat, according to the first police
officer at the scene.
It is alleged that Maria
and Argelia Romero arrived at the accident
scene and got into the car, reporting to
the West Orange Police Department that they
were passengers. Noemi, Maria and Argelia
Romero, along with the male passenger, submitted
claims totaling approximately $20,000 to
the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company
for Personal Injury Protection coverage
related to purported injury-related treatments.
All of the injury claims were denied. Argelia
allegedly submitted over $7,000 in claims,
and Maria allegedly submitted over $5,000.
The indictment is merely
an accusation and the defendants are presumed
innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree
crimes carry a maximum punishment of 10
years in state prison and a criminal fine
of $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry
a maximum punishment of five years in prison
and a fine of $15,000. The defendants also
may face civil insurance fraud fines.
false automobile accident claim requires
that a person be willing to lie multiple
times – to police officers, insurance
carriers, doctors and attorneys –
and it is this lengthy pattern of deception
that makes these crimes so troubling,”
said Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Brown.
State Investigator Thomas
Tiernan, Civil Investigator Nicholas Liotti
and Deputy Attorney General Valerie A. Noto
are handling the case, which was referred
to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
by the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance
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.