TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi announced that a Union City woman and her Jersey City brother were indicted today for their alleged roles in a scheme to submit false auto insurance claims.
According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi, Libia Mendoza, 37, of Union City and her brother, Leonel Mendoza, 39, of Jersey City, were charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree tampering with public records, and third-degree attempted theft by deception.
The state grand jury indictment alleges that between May 12, 2010, and Sept. 25, 2011, Leonel Mendoza fraudulently reported an alleged hit and run accident, via telephone, to MetLife Auto and Home Insurance Company. Leonel Mendoza allegedly reported the accident on behalf of his sister, Libia Mendoza, the insured, and alleged claimed that a phantom vehicle caused damage to Libia’s 2005, BMW X5. It is also alleged that Leonel, on behalf of Libia, completed and submitted a false New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accident Report to the Jersey City Police Department alleging the hit and run accident.
An investigation determined that Libia Mendoza allegedly submitted the false Motor Vehicle Accident Report to MetLife in furtherance of her insurance claim for approximately $10,095 in benefits. MetLife denied the claim and referred the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
The indictment also alleges that Libia and Leonel Mendoza provided a MetLife representative with a false voluntary recorded statement detailing the alleged hit and run accident that purportedly caused damage to Libia’s 2005 BMW X5.
Deputy Attorney General Carlos A. Lopez and Detective Scott Stevens were assigned to the investigation. Lopez presented the case to the state grand jury. Acting Prosecutor Chillemi thanked Special Investigator Bryan Dunigan of MetLife Auto & Home for his assistance in the investigation.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum punishment of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org . State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.