Insurance Fraud Leads to Trial RiggingInsurance Fraud — By Trace America on July 25, 2012 at 1:52 PM
The Attorney General’s Office has announced that five people were arrested on July 19th in connection with an alleged scheme to rig the outcome of a Suffolk Superior Court trial.
According to the Boston Globe, David Forlizzi, 52, Janet Vaccari, 51, Deana Pistone, 29, Laura Battista, 63, and William Penta, 49, face charges in the case. Each faces a different set of charges that reflect their alleged roles in the scheme.
The charges against them range from corruption of a witness, perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy.
All five defendants were originally indicted in 2008 for insurance fraud and other charges stemming from an investigation into an alleged scheme that involved billing auto insurance companies for car accidents that never actually happened, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office.
Vaccari, Pistone, Penta, and Battista each pled guilty in that case.
When Forlizzi’s trial approached back in March, Forlizzi and Laura Battista’s stepson, Fred Battista allegedly conspired to give false testimony so the two men would be acquitted.
In a statement Coakley noted, “The truthful testimony of witnesses under oath is critical for a successful trial and any attempt to suborn perjury and obstruct justice will be prosecuted.”
Before the indictments, Vaccari, Pistone, and Penta all gave recorded statements that Forlizzi and Fred Battista, both of whom helped operate Collision Headquarters, Inc, coordinated the fraud. Prosecutors stated that Forlizzi and Fred Battista recruited people to have their undamaged cars damaged in order to get money from an insurance company. Those “customers” would then receive $200 upfront and additional money later on from the insurers.
According to the Boston Herald and assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Shea, “They claimed to investigators before trial that Mr. Forlizzi and Fred Battista had arranged the fraud. They testified then at trial in complete contradiction that Fred Battista and Mr. Forlizzi had nothing to do with the fraud.”
Court documents note, “At trial, Vaccari and Penta both claimed that they could not remember the recorded statements that they made to [Insurance Fraud Bureau] investigators in which they implicated Forlizzi and / or Fred Battista. “[I]n response to questions by the trial prosecutor about the fact that Laura Battista, Penta and Vaccari had pled guilty to conspiring with Forlizzi and/or Fred Battista, Laura Battista, Penta, and Vaccari testified that they did not realize that they had pled guilty to such charges.”
After evidence was presented in the case, the Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan discharged the jury and recommended that an investigation take place about whether perjury, subornation of perjury, and obstruction of justice occurred.
“…somebody spoke to these witnesses. … One witness disappears, and the other two do a complete about face, and then virtually have identical scenarios in their testimony. It has a stench to it,” Quinlan told attorneys in March, according to court documents. “Whatever has happened in this case is a disgrace.”
An investigation also determined that before and during his trial, Forlizzi paid Vaccari $3,275 to hide her daughter out of state until the trial collapsed.
Authorities noted that Vaccari then allegedly sent the money out of state to keep Pistone and her daughter hidden and keep her from having to testify against Forlizzi.
All five defendants pleaded not guilty to the trial rigging charges and are expected back in court on August 29th.
This post is authored by Trace America.