Thursday, October 30, 2008

Operation Direct Hit -- Indictments & Arrests Announced in Major No-Fault Insurance Fraud Scheme

Earlier today the Queens County District Attorney's Office announced that 61 individuals and 2 corporations have been charged with engaging in a widespread, multimillion-dollar no-fault automobile insurance fraud scheme that sought to defraud insurance companies by intentionally staging accidents, submitting false medical and bodily injury claims and arranging for unneeded treatment and costly and unwarranted medical tests. Fifty-four of the individuals are in custody and seven are presently being sought.

District Attorney Richard Brown said, “The defendants – among whom are the operators of a Manhattan medical clinic – are accused of deliberately causing or staging more than 40 automobile accidents with unsuspecting drivers – particularly targeting Asian drivers in the Flushing area of Queens – over the last three years in order to capitalize on New York’s no-fault insurance law. * * * The defendants in this case are charged with bilking insurance carriers out of more than $1.6 million they submitted for allegedly unnecessary medical services for exaggerated or fabricated injuries.”

The charges are the result of a 19-month investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau and the New York Health Care Fraud Task Force – which is composed of agents and detectives from the FBI, the NYPD, and other federal, state and local law enforcement entities, as well as investigators from the insurance industry. The investigation included physical and video surveillance, intelligence information, court-authorized electronic eavesdropping and the interception of hundreds of conversations – some of which occurred as the defendants were allegedly crashing into innocent drivers.

The investigation – dubbed Operation Direct Hit – began in March 2007 when the NYPD uncovered evidence of a specific accident pattern occurring within the confines of the 109th Precinct in Queens County that dated back to 2005. Typically, the “victim” vehicle – often driven by an Asian individual – was intentionally struck while backing out of a driveway or pulling out of a parking lot. The investigation later revealed that Tomas Aquiles, who allegedly coordinated these accidents, specifically targeted Asian American drivers due to his belief that they were bad drivers and that they would be blamed by the police and insurers for the accidents instead of the actual culprits. Some of the Asian American drivers were injured as a result of these accidents and many suffered significant damage to their vehicles. As a result, Aquiles has been charged with multiple violations of New York’s Hate Crime Statute, which enhances an offender’s sentence if convicted.

While most of the accidents were relatively minor, the investigation revealed that the occupants of the cars that caused the accidents all purportedly received extensive medical treatment at the same medical clinic – Bronx Park Medical (also known as Health Bay Medical), located at 100 Dyckman Street in Manhattan.

According to the indictments filed today, Bronx Park Medical was at the epicenter of an insurance fraud ring that operated from about July 23, 2005, to the present. It is alleged that the clinic operators – Inessa Drabkin and Michael Mazur – paid runners – such as Aquiles – up to $2,500 for each person whom they recruited to pose as an injured accident victim. Fake patients, it is alleged, received payment from either a runner or a clinic employee of up to $1,000 for their participation in the scheme.

It is alleged that in order to receive payment, a fake patient had to assign their no-fault benefits to the clinic and undergo a prescribed course of treatment at the clinic – dictated and controlled by non-medical personnel Drabkin and Mazur – in order to ensure that each insurance carrier was billed the maximum amount possible under the no-fault system. The prescribed treatment was also allegedly designed to generate lucrative lawsuits for others who worked with clinic management – such as Yevgeniy Rivkin, who allegedly oversaw the operations of the clinic by determining which medical providers would work at the clinic and deciding which staged and caused accident participants should receive medical treatment, so as to enhance the value of lawsuits. On average, insurance carriers paid up to several thousand dollars for each bodily injury claim.

In addition to the criminal charges, the District Attorney’s Office has filed a civil forfeiture action against six of the main defendants – Yevgeniy Ryvkin, Inessa Drabkin, Michael Mazur, Tomas Aquiles, and corporate defendants Integra CBA Company, Inc., and PKH Corp. – seeking the forfeiture of $1.6 million in illegally obtained proceeds. Approximately $900,000 has been seized to date.

Those indicted and charged are:
Medical Clinic Employees (4)

Inessa “Ina” Drabkin, 53, of 300 East 77th Street in Manhattan
Michael “Mikhail” Mazur, 42, of 66 Willow Lane in Staten Island
Yevgeniy “Gene”Rivkin, 38 , of 3429 Guilder Avenue in Brooklyn
Lucy “Luz” Rodriguez, 39, of 2150 Creston Avenue in the Bronx

Medical Management Companies (2)

Integra CBA Company Inc., is located at 100 Dyckman Street in Manhattan
PKH, Corp., Is located at 300 East 77th Street in Manhattan

Alleged Super Runner (1)
Tomas “Junior” Aquiles, 40, of 137 Vance Street in New Britain, Connecticut (not in custody)

Alleged Sub Runners (7)

Maura Resto-Abad, 48, of 1715 Walton Avenue in the Bronx
Francisco Capellan Amado, 33, of 2663 Heath Avenue in the Bronx
Vicentina Hernandez, 35, of 2065 Davidson Avenue in the Bronx
Lidiana Jones, 40, of 2816 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx
Magnolia Lajara, 30, of 1398 Grand Concourse in the Bronx (not in custody)
Ann Soto, 37, of 2145 Mapes Avenue in the Bronx
Jeremias Vargas (not in custody)

Alleged Accident Participants (45)

(4 other defendants are being sought)

Carmen Acevedo, 50, of 4231 Ely Avenue in the Bronx
Yanina Baez, 28, of 3155 Grand Concourse in the Bronx
Wendy Bonilla, 23, of 2851 Webb Avenue in the Bronx
Yokasta Caba, 36, of 2702 Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx
Grace Calderon, 19, of 2145 Mapes Avenue in the Bronx
Solange Cheij, 45, of 2786 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx
Carlos Carasquillo, 21, of 2 Arden Street in Manhattan
Diana Castillo, 26, of 2274 Grand Concourse in the Bronx
Carlos Collado, 39, of 1236 Virginia Avenue in the Bronx
Tomas Cueto, 44, of 2120 A Grand Avenue in the Bronx
Denise Espinal, 26, of 275 West 238th Street in the Bronx
Luis Espinal, 28, of 40 Richmond Plaza in the Bronx
Carmen “Flores” DeJesus, 38, of 551 W. 185th Street in Manhattan
Francisco DeJesus, 28, of 110 Post Avenue in Manhattan
Angela Gomez, 53, of 510 West 146th Street in Manhattan
Darleivys Gonzalez, 21, of 15 Featherbed Lane in the Bronx
Diostone Gonzalez, 29, of 2146 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan
Fanny Gonzalez, 21, of 2065 Davison Avenue in the Bronx
Nancy Gonzalez, 33, of 1749 Grand Concourse in the Bronx
Odlie Gonzalez, 24, of 2786 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx
Joel E. Guerrero, 18, of 785 East 151st Street in the Bronx
Daisy Guzman, 26, of 570 West 182nd Street in Manhattan
Tinmarsan “Tin” Lantiquadelacruz, of 11 West 172nd Street in the Bronx
Alexis Martinez, 31 or 29, of 3333 West 136th Street in Manhattan
Annie Martinez, 31, of 1545 Rhinelander Avenue in the Bronx
Pablo Martinez, 21, of 1929 Andrews Avenue in Manhattan
Yanehsya Mejia, 22, of 355 East 187th Street in the Bronx
Christina Mendez, 40, of 2326 Loring Place in the Bronx
Carlos Morena, 33, of 129 East 123rd Street in Manhattan
Emmanuel Nueces, 30, of 111 Wadsworth Avenue in Manhattan
Gladys Ortiz, 38,of 1309 Washington Avenue in the Bronx
Carlos Peguero, 29 of 30, of 2789 Kingsbridge Terrace in the Bronx
Yoanny Peralta, 31, of 1365 St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan
Joyce Perez, 19, of 860 Riverside Drive in Manhattan
Karen Quinones, 43, of 54 Post Street in Yonkers, NY
Eva Rodriguez,( aka Eva Jazmin), 34, of 327 East 112th Street in Manhattan
Jose Luis Rodrguez (aka Jose Luis Pichardo), 35, of 649 Lenonx Avenue in Manhattan
Luis Rosa, 21, of 2825 Cafin Avenue in the Bronx
Anna Rosario, 23, of 24 Valentine Avenue in the Bronx
Juana Santana, 36, of 611 Academy Street in Manhattan
Kira Santiago, 24, of 229 W. 97th Street in Manhattan
Miguelina Silva, 32, of 90 Caryl Avenue in Yonkers, NY
Maria Soto, 46, of 470-71 Ash Avenue in Queens
Jesus Capellan Ulloa, 41, of 1256 Walton Avenue in the Bronx
Trinidad Valdez, 56, of 15 Featherbed Lane in the Bronx
The Queens DA's press release, which contains more details regarding the investigation, reminds that "[i]t should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty."

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