Sixteen people, including three lawyers and four chiropractors, have been indicted by a special grand jury in Essex County for their alleged involvement in auto insurance fraud in Lawrence.
The 16 were summonsed for arraignments today, Sept. 24, in Salem Superior Court, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.
The city’s auto insurance fraud problems have been under the spotlight since a 65-year-old grandmother died last year in what authorities said was a staged car crash.
At the time, insurance officials said Lawrence was not only the state’s auto insurance fraud capital, it was one of the hottest spots for auto insurance fraud in the nation.
The indicted lawyers are Charles Lonardo, 44, of Salem, N.H., Deborah Cuomo, 52, of Andover, and Jorge Elias, 57, of Salem. All were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and other charges.
The indicted chiropractors are Craig Klein, 29, of Bloomfield, N.J.; Charles Nisivoccia Jr., 39, and Sean Nisivoccia, 34, both of Clifton, N.J.; and Alan Cohen, 38, of Weston. All were indicted on charges of insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
The others indicted include three office managers, four “runners,” an insurance agent and a witness who allegedly lied to authorities. “Runners” are the people who recruit others to take part in fraudulent claims.
Blodgett, who had no further comment on the indictments, said the special grand jury had the cooperation of Lawrence police, the industry-funded Insurance Fraud Bureau and the attorney general.
Police have cracked down on insurance fraud in Lawrence since the September 2003 death of Altagracia Arias, 65, who died from head injuries suffered in a staged accident while she rode in the back seat of a car driven by her grandson that smashed into another car.
The crackdown has resulted in dozens of arrests and a severe reduction in auto accident insurance claims.
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