Alleged N. Y. Fraud Ring Sued by The Hartford

December 13, 2002

The Hartford filed suit against seven New York State residents and eleven New York businesses for their role in an alleged scheme to fraudulently purchase insurance coverage and avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in automobile liability insurance premiums.

The suit, filed through The Hartford subsidiary Twin City Fire Insurance Company, in United States District Court, District of Connecticut, seeks at least $5 million in damages.

The Hartford alleges the named defendants conspired to fraudulently obtain automobile liability insurance for five New York City taxi and livery companies by misrepresenting them as lower risk ambulette and limousine companies operating primarily in rural Duchess county. Specifically, the suit charges that the defendants falsified business locations, mailing addresses and driver lists, misrepresented the nature of the businesses, used fictitious names and repeatedly canceled meetings to avoid revealing accurate information about the cab companies.

The suit states that Twin City would not have issued the policies if the applications had truthfully disclosed that the three Brooklyn-based and two Staten Island-based businesses provided taxi and private-car service in New York City.

Twin City issued five separate policies based on fraudulent information provided by the defendants. The policies were in effect during a four-year period, from 1998 to, most recently, August, 2002. To date, The Hartford has paid more than $600,000 to settle accident claims filed under these fraudulently obtained policies and anticipates that claim costs may go significantly higher.

According to The Hartford, key figures in the fraud ring are Scott Eric Sanders of Staten Island and his brother Adam Drew Sanders of New City, New York. In 1996, Scott Sanders and his father Dean Sanders pled guilty in New York Federal Court to criminal racketeering charges stemming from a similar insurance fraud scheme. The two men were sentenced to more than three years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution.

Other people named in the suit are Marci Lyn Ury-Sanders, wife of Scott Sanders; Louis Balzano, Peter Setteducato and Thomas Bevilacque, all of Staten Island; and Stanislaw K. Ogonowski of Monroe, N.Y.

In addition to seeking at least $5 million in damages, The Hartford is asking the court for a declaratory judgment that would void the defendants’ insurance policies, eliminating the company’s obligation to pay claims that the defendants themselves submit.

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