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Wednesday, 24 October 2012 18:45

New York Auto Body Owner Faces Felony Charges over State Police Vehicle Repairs

An auto body and repair service owner in Bedford, NY, faces several criminal charges connected to the alleged fraudulent repair of state police vehicles. Police say Brian Prato, 55, of Bedford, was part of an insurance fraud in which state police cars were repaired with used parts but charged for new ones.

Prato was arrested on Oct. 4. The owner of B&B Auto Body was charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. He faces grand larceny and insurance fraud charges brought by state and county investigators who allege they uncovered a scheme to defraud the state and the insurance company that covered state police vehicles. Police said an investigation showed Prato charged for new parts but installed used parts, including some from old cruisers no longer used.

According to state police, “The investigation found that insurance companies were paying for new parts to be used in the repairs of the vehicles as written in estimates submitted by the auto body shops. Inspection of the vehicles showed that new parts were not installed as written in paperwork submitted to insurance companies; instead used parts were used for some of the repairs on three New York State Police vehicles. In some instances, parts were taken off retired New York State Police vehicles and were used for repairs.”

In addition to the fraud, police said the installation of old parts on the vehicles could have put the lives of troopers in jeopardy. Prosecutors charged Prato with third- and fourth-degree insurance fraud, fourth-degree grand larceny, attempted third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, all felonies; and fifth-degree insurance fraud and attempted petty larceny, misdemeanors.

Prato was arraigned before Bedford Town Justice Erik P. Jacobsen, who set bail at $10,000. Prato posted bail and was ordered to return to court Oct. 25.

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