Three plead guilty to staging car accidents to collect insurance money | Paterson Times

Three plead guilty to staging car accidents to collect insurance money


A city couple and a Passaic man pled guilty to charges of defrauding insurance companies by staging accidents, announced the New Jersey attorney general’s office on Monday.

Husayn Encarnacion, 35, and his wife Jenny Encarnacion, 33, both of Paterson, and Harold Gross, 29, of Passaic, pled guilty on Monday for their role in a six-person scheme to defraud two insurance companies of approximately $78,000 by conducting staged-automobile accidents.

Standing before judge Randal Chiocca the trio pled guilty to the charges. Husayn Encarnacion pled guilty on charge of third-degree hindering an investigation, authorities said. The state will recommend he get probation. His wife Jenny Encarnacion pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception and will also be recommended for probation but she will have to pay restitution in the amount of $8,725.

Gross pled guilty to third-degree theft by deception. The state plans to recommend a prison four-year sentence. He will also have to pay $2,500 in restitution.

The trio were indicted in April 10 along with three others, Ariel Ballista, 27, Jonathan Damian, 26, and Olivares R. Liberato-Cohen, 46. Case against the three named is still pending, authorities said.

Liberato-Cohen allegedly recruited the trio into the fraud scheme. The team on April 25, 2009 completed a staged accident when Liberato-Cohen allegedly drove his Dodge Caravan inside of which were Damian, Gross and Jenny Encarnacion into a Dodge Avenger. The state alleges Ballista was the sole passenger in the Avenger. Ballista allegedly agreed to participate in what came next.

Gross and Jenny Encarnacion visited certain medical providers and submitted claims of $2,500 and $8,725 to Mercury Insurance Group.

“The co-conspirators in this case sought to benefit financially by participating in a staged automobile accident that not only endangered their own well-being, but also that of any drivers, passengers or pedestrians who may have been nearby on that day,” said acting attorney general John Hoffman. “They wanted to cheat insurers and were reckless in that pursuit.”

The Office of the Insurance Fraud had been engaged in “Operation Bang-Up” investigating automobile accidents that took place in Passaic County between 2009 and 2013. The investigators came across this case and began investigating.

“As insurance companies respond to staged accidents and pay out the claims associated with them, premiums for law abiding drivers will increase,” said acting insurance fraud prosecutor Ronald Chillemi. “Drivers cannot participate in a fair marketplace as long as criminals seek to defraud the insurance industry.”