Indiana Prosecutors Say Company Damaged Roof in Hail Scam

September 22, 2008

Marion County, Indiana prosecutors say a company that offered to inspect roofs for hail damage after a 2006 storm tried to scam insurance companies by having employees damage roofs.

Prosecutors say CPM Construction offered free wind- or hail-damage inspections to potential customers following a massive hailstorm that damaged thousands of Indianapolis roofs in 2006.

Company employees would then cause damage to shingles and siding, bending them, scraping them with coins or hitting them with golf balls in socks, according to court records. The company then tried to arrange insurance claims to pay for repairs, prosecutors say.

Lawyers for CPM Construction say the company denies the charges, and that president and chief executive officer Joseph M. Radcliff intends to vigorously defend the charges.

Radcliff was arraigned on September 18 in Marion Superior Court on 14 felony counts of corrupt business influence, criminal mischief, insurance fraud and theft. The most serious charges each carry a maximum penalty of eight years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

CPM, short for Coastal Property Management, is based in Orlando, Fla., according to the company’s Web site. It has an Indiana office in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers.

The criminal charges stem from payments made by State Farm Insurance. Five of the false claims were in Marion County, and more are being investigated for irregularities, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

State Farm became suspicious of the CPM cases, according to court documents, and the insurance company hired independent firms to examine the damage. Inspectors often found the damage to be too neat or patterned to be real hail damage.

After determining damage wasn’t caused by hail, State Farm often wrote checks to customers to repair what it termed suspected vandalism.

Two former CPM employees said that Radcliff, 33, of Windermere, Fla., demonstrated how to damage a roof and created some of the damage claimed for Indiana customers, according to the affidavit. One technique was called “dime spinning,” or using a coin to create damage on asphalt shingles.

The affidavit alleges that Radcliff sent text messages in August 2007 to Indianapolis-area employees: “I have talked with State Farm. They are looking for dime spinning. NO MORE. If caught they will contact police.”

Topics Indiana

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