CFO Jeff Atwater Announces 19 Arrests in Jacksonville Accident Clinic Sting
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Valerie Marshal, 24, a licensed massage therapist and owner of Indian Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (IRCI), and 18 others for insurance fraud for alleged involvement in a fraudulent accident clinic ring.
“These large-scale accident clinics are at the root of the PIP fraud problem in Florida,” CFO Atwater said. “We must stay one step ahead of the ring leaders who are orchestrating these schemes. We will continue to take out these PIP fraud rings so that Florida drivers are protected and safe on the roads.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud and the Duval State Attorney’s Office alleges that in September 2011, Marshal opened IRCI and conspired with several individuals to stage auto accidents and submit fraudulent therapy reports for patients who never received treatment from her clinic. These reports were used to file fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims with several insurance companies.
Also arrested in the sting were various clinic employees, recruiters, and staged accident participants; Yokayra Ramos, Roscoe Sawyer, Jr., Edgard Fernandez-Romans, David Arteaga Torres, Kenneth Carrerro, Jonathan Robinson, Calvin Grier, Tara Buck, Niko Semedo, Tawaub Zahir, Samantha Daniels, Kathy Adams, Yilan Espinosa, Connor Certo, Tara Buck, Lester Lopez, Craig Graves and Ernando Valentin.
At least 19 claims were reported to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) from 11 insurance carriers. IRCI had approximately 80 patients during this time and over $228,000 was paid out to IRCI from the insurance providers. Additional arrests are expected.
Marshal, as well as the 18 other individuals arrested in connection with the fraud ring, were booked into the Duval County Jail. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison and each of the 18 individuals face up to 15 years in prison. The Office of Duval State Attorney Angela Cory will be prosecuting the charges in this case.
CFO Atwater championed legislative reforms that addressed cost drivers and fraud in Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) system. These reforms, passed during the 2012 Legislative Session, went into effect January 1, 2013.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.