PA Man Sentenced for String of Staged AccidentsScandalous Schemes — By Trace America on June 26, 2012 at 9:54 AM
Back in October we brought you the story of a ten-person staged accident ring. Now, one of those ring participants is being sentenced for his role. Erie resident Edgar Rodriguez had a tendency to get in automobile accidents in his 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan; and eventually the frequency and similarity of those accidents caught up with him.
According to GoErie.com, Rodriguez, 39, was sentenced on June 19th for his guilty plea to running a ring that staged phony crashes and earned him and his co-conspirators over $37,000, not to mention numerous jail sentences.
Police note that the scam continued from June of 2010 until around the time police charged Rodriguez and nine others in October of 2011.
Rodriguez was sentenced by Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. to six to 23 months in the Erie County Prison, then immediately paroled.
Rodriguez was granted the parole because he had already served six months in prison after his October arrest. He will now be on parole for 17 months, or the balance left to his sentence.
DiSantis also ordered Rodriguez to serve four years of probation and to pay restitution of about $37,000, which his co-defendants will also help to repay.
The case against Rodriguez started in April of 2011, when an investigator from Geico contacted Lt. John McCall, the insurance fraud investigator for the Erie Police.
McCall said the insurance investigator had become suspicious about the number of Rodriguez’s accidents, and how they often shared similarities in the kind of damages and the vehicles, including the 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan. McCall gathered photos and other details for each claim.
McCall stated, “There was a lot of information. Once I started comparing the photos, that really did it.”
Rodriguez pleaded guilty in April to two counts of insurance fraud and three counts of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, which are all third-degree felonies.
Though DiSantis said he considered Rodriguez’s guilty plea and lack of prior record, his sentence was in the aggravated range of the sentencing guidelines.
The defense for Rodriguez, who apologized, blamed a drug problem for leading Rodriguez to undertake what DiSantis called “a crime spree.”
Of his rehab, Rodriguez noted, “I’m following God’s path.”
McCall accused Rodriguez of filing 21 bogus claims with insurance companies, including Geico, State Farm, Nationwide and Progressive. Some of the claims were based on staged accidents and others on exaggerated damages, said Assistant District Attorney Roger Bauer, who handled the case.
Rodriguez’s lawyer, Kevin Kallenbach, said the five charges to which Rodriguez pleaded guilty covered a total of 15 acts of fraud –three in which he acted alone and 12 in which he had help.
Bauer noted that to have that many false claims, “and the amount of people involved, it is significant.”
This post is authored by Trace America.