An New York woman and three people who helped her dump her SUV into Lake Erie so she could collect on insurance money will face charges of insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, the New York State Insurance Department reported.
The four are identified as Paula Parent, 44, of Blasdell; Marc Poole, 34, of West Seneca; Derrick Smietana, 19, of Orchard Park; and Jonathan Smietana, 18, of Blasdell. Parent and Poole also face charges of attempted grand larceny.
The three were arrested after a joint investigation by Insurance Department Frauds Bureau Investigator David A. Hahn, Detective Gary Chwojdak of the Buffalo Police Auto Theft Squad, and New York State Police Investigator Eldred Green.
According to Hahn, Parent admitted she recruited Poole to help her dispose of her leased 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer so she could buy a less costly vehicle with better gas mileage. Hahn said Poole then recruited the two Smietanas, who are cousins, to help him.
The Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team found the vehicle submerged in Lake Erie on July 9, less than a month after Poole reported the vehicle stolen. The vehicle was found with its keys in the ignition and a rock attached to the gas pedal.
If convicted, the four could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
Source: New York State Insurance Dept.