A Jersey City, N.J., woman has been charged with stealing more than $46,000 by fraudulently collecting her mother’s workers’ comp dependency benefits for nearly three years after she died.
Wanda Berry was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud and third-degree theft by deception in an indictment handed up by a state grand jury in Trenton, N.J. last week.
“We allege that Berry used lies and deceit to illegally keep her mother’s monthly benefit checks coming for years after her death,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in a press release issued by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. “We will not allow individuals to manipulate and undermine the insurance system to satisfy their selfish greed.”
After her mother died in November 2014, Berry fraudulently claimed to New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (NJM) that her mother was alive in order to continue collecting the $1,400 monthly insurance benefit her mother had been receiving.
According to the indictment, Berry did this by falsely representing to NJM representatives in 2015 that her mother was alive and living in a nursing home under a doctor’s care. In 2016, she falsely represented that her mother was alive in hospice care and provided a fraudulent doctor’s note to support that false claim, the indictment added.
The indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree charges in New Jersey carry a sentence of five-to-10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes in New Jersey carry a sentence of three-to-five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
“Cashing benefit checks meant for someone else is stealing,” said New Jersey Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson in the release. “This indictment sends a message that anyone caught engaging in this kind of insurance fraud faces serious charges.”
Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan presented the case to the grand jury. Detective Amy Carson coordinated the investigation.
Source: New Jersey Office of the Attorney General
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