Edgar Rodriguez, 39, of Erie, PA had a tendency to get in automobile accidents in his 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan. Eventually the frequency and similarity of those accidents caught up with him.
Rodriguez was sentenced on June 19 for his guilty plea to running a 10-person ring that staged phony crashes and earned him and his co-conspirators over $37,000.
Police note that the scam continued from June, 2011 to October, 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, 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.
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.