HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett has announced the filing of criminal charges against a Philadelphia insurance agent and the arrest of a vehicle tag agent from Philadelphia, along with charges against 22 New York residents, all allegedly linked to a cross-state “rate evasion” insurance fraud scheme.
Corbett explained that rate evasion involves out-of-state residents – typically from the New York City area – who falsely claim to be Pennsylvania residents in order to save money on their vehicle insurance. Often, the individuals involved in these schemes provide bogus information to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in order to obtain PA drivers’ licenses or vehicle registrations so they can purchase lower cost insurance.
Corbett identified the central figures in the scheme as:
– Paul Franck Baptiste, 58, of 6101North Fairhill St., Philadelphia, doing business as P. Baptiste Multiple Services.
– Daniel Charles, 45, 425 East Godfrey Ave., Phila., doing business as D/C Auto Tags.
– Bernard Pierre, 56, 35 Linden Blvd., Brooklyn, NY.
“Some New York or New Jersey drivers can save up to four-thousand dollars per year by falsely claiming to live in Pennsylvania because of differences in insurance premiums and coverage requirements,” Corbett said. “Honest consumers end up paying for these schemes because accident claims generated by drivers who lie drive up premiums for everyone else.”
According to the criminal complaint, Baptiste issued numerous automobile insurance policies listing Pennsylvania addresses which turned out to be false – including eleven policies for individuals all claiming to live on a street in Clarion, Pennsylvania that does not exist, along with twelve policies for individuals all claiming to live at the same single family home on North 7th Street in Philadelphia, which tax records show is owned by Baptiste.
Corbett said a review by the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section of other policies issued by Baptiste revealed nine polices for individuals all claiming to live at another single-family home on North 7th Street in Philadelphia; five that listed a home address on North 21st Street, Philadelphia; 14 who all used the same address in State College; and eight that listed the same address in Allentown. The investigation established that none of those homes were actually used by the individuals who had listed these addresses on their insurance policies.
Daniel Charles is accused of assisting this illegal scheme by allowing Baptiste to use his Philadelphia auto tag office and providing him with access to blank PennDOT forms, which Charles had allegedly signed and notarized in advance. Charles is accused of submitting these forms, which falsely identified New York car owners as Pennsylvania residents, to PennDOT as if he had properly completed and verified them.
Bernard Pierre allegedly served as an intermediary, obtaining Pennsylvania vehicle titles, registrations and insurance from Baptiste on behalf of other New York residents.
“Rate evasion cases account for an estimated $12 to $15 million in claims on Pennsylvania insurance policies every year,” Corbett said. “That money comes directly out of the pocket of every other honest motorist in this state in the form of higher premiums.”
Corbett noted that in most cases, rate evaders are trying to obtain insurance coverage for the lowest possible cost, so they normally obtain only the minimum required coverage in Pennsylvania. When they are involved in an accident in their home state, the coverage requirements for that state apply and the cost of the accident claim increases.
Baptiste is charged with one count of participating in a corrupt organization and one count of criminal conspiracy to participate in a corrupt organization, both first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines.
Additionally, Baptiste is charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, both third-degree felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Baptiste is also charged with one count each of insurance fraud, false applications for certificate of registration or title, which are first-degree misdemeanors punishable to up to five years in prison and $10,000 fines; along with one count of unsworn falsifications to authorities, which is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 fines.
These charges against Baptiste were filed on November 18th by agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.
Charles and Pierre were arrested on November 18th on the same charges and preliminarily arraigned before Harrisburg Magisterial District Judge LaVon A. Postelle. Bail was set at $50,000 unsecured for each defendant pending preliminary hearings scheduled for November 26th, before Magisterial District Judge Postelle.
The defendants will be prosecuted in Dauphin County by Senior Deputy Attorney General M. Eric Schoenberg of the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.
Corbett said a total of 21 New York residents who fraudulently obtained Pennsylvania vehicle titles, registrations, and insurance have also been charged in connection with this investigation, including:
. Enock Adulte, 2025 East 59th St., Brooklyn, NY.
. Nelson Alameda, 104 Division Ave., Apt # 5, Brooklyn, NY.
. Marie Cantave, 1580 East 102 St., Apt. 4-C, Brooklyn, NY.
. Dayna Lamour-Jean, 15 Preston Court, Brooklyn, NY 11234.
. Camille E. DeRose, 405 E 16th St., Apt 2L, Brooklyn, NY.
. Rose Edmond, 17916 145th St., Jamaica, NY.
. Mymose Edouard, 1539 Remsen St., Brooklyn, NY.
. Antione Etienne, 9012 201st St., Jamaica, NY.
. Antony Hines, 3641 Nostrand Ave., Apt# 5E, Brooklyn, NY.
. Okechukwu Isienyi, 300 Vernon Ave., Apt. 9B, Brooklyn, NY.
. Andy Jean, 16345 130th St., Apt 2G, Jamaica, NY.
. Krystle Lamy, 1832 East 52nd St., Brooklyn, NY.
. Therese Lewis, 860 Columbus Ave., Apt# 1G, New York, NY.
. Nicolas Louisor, 1325 Eastern Parkway, Apt A-4, Brooklyn, NY.
. Marie Mimose Maxis, 248 E.55th St., Brooklyn, NY.
. Vitelius M. Pierre, 35 Linden Blvd. Apt C-2, Brooklyn, NY.
. Mahd Rawashdeh, 6307 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Apt 1, Brooklyn, NY.
. Joel Saintelus, 156 Cornelia St. # 3, Brooklyn, NY.
. William Senat, 770 Ocean Ave., Apt E-4, Brooklyn, NY.
. Mark Stewart, 428 E 22nd St., Apt 3G, Brooklyn, NY.
. Jean Valdo, 251 E 29th St., Apt 3B, Brooklyn, NY.
Those defendants were each charged with one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of insurance fraud, both third-degree felonies, which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.
They are also each charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of false application for title or registration, first-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 fines; along with one count of unsworn falsification to authorities, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.