A Florida man was sentenced to nine years in state prison for filing more than $1.2 million in false claims for refrigerated cargo purportedly spoiled in cross-country transport by his long-haul trucking companies based out of Middlesex County, N.J.
Palm Coast, Fla., resident Alexei Legassov also must pay $1,286,911 in restitution to two insurance companies under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County.
“Cargo fraud has a trickle-down effect that impacts everyone,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in a press release issued by the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. “It drives up insurance premiums for honest trucking companies, which increases the cost of transporting food. As a result, we all pay higher prices at the grocery store.”
In January, Legassov pleaded guilty to second-degree insurance fraud and misconduct by a corporate official. The charges stem from crimes Legassov committed in connection with several long-haul trucking companies he owned and/or operated in Middlesex County, including Akmos Trade Limited, Moon and Eggplant Limited, Passing Score LLC and G.K. Refrigerated Line LLC.
Between July 2012 and May 2017, under the guise of his various cargo hauling companies, Legassov submitted more than a dozen fraudulent insurance claims for losses purportedly incurred when truck refrigeration units broke down in transport, damaging and/or destroying fruits, vegetables, frozen cakes and other refrigerated goods. In reality, the cargo never existed or had not been damaged or destroyed.
To support his fraudulent claims for losses, Legassov submitted fabricated invoices and other falsified documents to his insurance carriers.
“Instead of making money as a legitimate businessman, Legassov tried to cheat his way to riches in an elaborate scheme to defraud his insurance providers,” said Acting New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson in the release. “Today, he faced the consequences for his deceit and greed. We will continue to investigate and hold accountable corrupt individuals who use their businesses for criminal profit.”
Legassov was ordered to pay $1,189,727.39 in restitution to Harleysville Insurance Company, which has now merged with Nationwide Insurance Company. He also must pay $97,183.54 in restitution to American International Group.
“The significant prison sentence this defendant received should serve as a deterrent to other business owners tempted to illegally pad their bottom line by cheating carriers that insure cargo vital to commerce,” Grewal said in the release.
Source: New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
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