N.J. Mother, Son Sentenced for Auto Fraud & Official Bribery Scam

October 9, 2003

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that an East Orange mother and son were sentenced for their reported participation in an organized scheme to illegally obtain valid police accident reports in order to solicit victims to submit fraudulent insurance claims.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, Shirley Jenkins, 51, and her son Abdul Jenkins, 32, were sentenced to two years probation with 90 days county jail and three years probation with 364 days in county jail respectively.

The defendants were sentenced pursuant to their guilty pleas to an indictment returned on March 31, 2003 which charged them with conspiracy (2nd degree), bribery in official matters (2nd and 3rd degree), and Health Care Claims Fraud (2nd degree).

Also charged in the State Grand Jury indictment returned on March 31, was Rajauhn Sharrieff of Newark.

The defendants were charged pursuant to the State’s Health Care Claims Fraud statute. The Health Care Claims Fraud statute became effective on Jan. 15, 1998 and was passed to “enable more efficient prosecution of criminally culpable persons who knowingly, or with criminal recklessness, submit false or fraudulent claims for payment or reimbursement of health care services.”

At the guilty plea hearing on June 11, 2003 before Essex County Superior Court Judge Paul Vichness, Shirley and Abdul Jenkins reportedly admitted that from February through October, 1999, they conspired to pay bribes to an E. Orange police officer who was working in an undercover capacity for the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

The undercover investigation focused on allegations that persons were acting as “runners” on behalf of medical service providers in order to obtain police accident reports. The police reports were then reviewed and the persons identified in the reports were solicited to become patients of certain medical service providers and to file Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance claims. The defendants would receive a portion of any insurance settlement or payment.

The indictment also alleged that the defendants negotiated and paid the undercover police officer several hundred dollars for a genuine E. Orange Police Department automobile accident report. Specifically, it was alleged that Sharrieff solicited the undercover police officer to create at least one fictitious automobile accident report detailing a non-existent hit and run accident that purportedly occurred on March 11, 1999 in which four persons who were passengers in Sharrieff’s car sustained injuries.

As a result of the fictitious accident and fraudulent police report, a claim was submitted to the Colonial Penn Insurance Company which paid Sharrieff more than $1,563 for “damage” to the automobile. The case against Sharrieff is pending trial.

As part of the investigation, a second indictment was returned by the State Grand Jury on March 31 which charged Bernard Zeigler of E. Orange with conspiracy, Health Care Claims Fraud (2nd degree) and theft by deception (3rd degree). The investigation determined that Colonial Penn Insurance Company reportedly paid approximately $15,000 to Zeigler to settle a “bodily injury” claim based, in part, on a phony accident report. Colonial Penn also paid more than $20,000 to 14 different medical providers for purported “treatment” rendered to Ziegler as a result of the “accident”.

Zeigler pled guilty to all the charges on May 19 and was sentenced by Judge Vichness on September 8 to two years probation. In addition, Zeigler was ordered to make restitution to Colonial Penn in the amount of $36,563 and pay a $3,000 civil fine. The investigation regarding the role of specific medical providers is ongoing.

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