Video filmed by undercover police shows auto repair workers in The Bronx use a sledgehammer and cardboard to intentionally inflict damage to a car in order to defraud insurance companies by making an accident claim.
The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced that 12 people have been indicted following a two-year investigation into an alleged scheme by auto repair shop owners who are accused of falsifying insurance claims.
The DA’s office alleges that body shop owners ‘intentionally inflicted damage to vehicles that were not previously damaged’ in order to defraud insurers.
‘In some cases, defendants strategically enhanced vehicle damage so the body shop could increase the billed repair cost while keeping the actual cost of repair to a minimum,’ the DA’s office alleges.
‘The insurer would be charged the higher amount.’
The image above shows video from an undercover police camera in which auto body repair workers are seen using a sledgehammer and a piece of cardboard to intentionally inflict damage on a Honda Civic so as to defraud insurance companies, it is alleged
The video was released on Wednesday by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, which announced indictments against 12 people involved in the scheme
The indictments named several auto body repair shop owners and workers in several businesses in The Bronx and Westchester County who allegedly took part in the scheme
The people named in the indictments have been charged with several felonies, including grand larceny, insurance fraud, money laundering, and enterprise corruption
Another scheme involved staging accidents between two or more vehicles, at least one of which was owned by a person who had insurance, it is alleged.
Some of those named in the indictment would ‘strategically strike insured vehicles with heavy objects such as sledgehammers or rub light assemblies alongside a vehicle.’
‘The damage was created to simulate collisions with stationary vehicles,’ the DA’s office said.
On several occasions, the suspects didn’t create new damage but instead submitted claims to multiple insurance companies under different policies in an attempt to receive money.
After the insurance companies sent checks, the proceeds were then laundered through deposits, transfers, and cash withdrawals throughout bank accounts controlled by the scheme’s masterminds, who are known as the ‘Jawahir Enterprise.’
Prosecutors allege that several individuals posed as vehicle owners and submitted fraudulent claims to insurance companies in order to get money.
Joseph S. Cermele, 59, an auto body repair shop owner from Westchester County, was among those indicted. DailyMail.com has reached out to Cermele for comment
Others also brought in additional people to take part in the scheme.
The DA’s office on Wednesday announced the arrest of several body shop owners and employees, including Ronnie Lee-Andros Jawahir, 38; Allan Ramdeo Ramiah, 34; Joseph S. Cermele, 59; Ronald Jawahir, 31; Rangee Jawahir, 33; Georgette S. Sloley, 33; Danesh Singh, 30; Andrew Arjune, 29; and Wayne M. Scott, 54.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Cermele for comment. Contact information for the other defendants was not immediately available.
Those individuals have been charged with several felonies, including enterprise corruption, grand larceny, money laundering, and insurance fraud.
Three others – Latoya Shonta Turner, 33; Reiluis Medina, 31; and Andrea Thompson, 34 – were arrested and charged with related crimes, including insurance fraud and grand larceny.
All of those indicted are residents of either Westchester County or The Bronx – with the exception of Scott, who is from Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Four of the defendants – Cermele, Rangee Jawahir, Sloley, and Scott – were arrested on December 1 and arraigned in New Rochelle City Court.
Arjune, Singh, Ronald Jawahir, Ramiah, and Ronnie Lee-Andros Jawahir, were arrested on Tuesday and also arraigned in New Rochelle.
The DA’s office said the arrests were made after collaboration between police in New Rochelle, Yonkers, and New York State law enforcement agencies.
‘Auto insurance theft affects every one of us,’ Westchester County DA Anthony A. Scarpino Jr said.
‘Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. When false claims are made and money is stolen from insurance companies, it forces all of our insurance rates to increase and costs each of us hard-earned money.’
Prosecutors said they expect to make more arrests in the near future.