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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
July 26, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
- Greta Gooden Brown, Insurance Fraud Prosecutor

 

Rachel Sacharow
609-984-1936

 

Division of Criminal Justice - Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor - Charges Cumberland County Woman and Nephew with Automobile Insurance “Give Up” and Arson Conspiracy

TRENTON - Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has obtained an indictment charging a Cumberland County woman and her nephew with insurance fraud for their roles in an automobile insurance “give up” and arson conspiracy.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden-Brown, Sandra I. Rodriguez, 39, South West Boulevard, Vineland, Cumberland County, and her nephew, Jonathan Rodriguez, 26, West Grand Avenue (l/k/a), Vineland, were charged with conspiracy and aggravated arson (2nd degree), attempted theft by deception, tampering with public records or information, and arson, (3rd degree), and falsifying records (4th degree). If convicted of all charges, the defendants face more than 25 years in state prison and a criminal fine of more than $300,000. The defendants also face possible civil insurance fraud fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

The Cumberland County Grand indictment alleges that between April 12 and July 5, 2003, Sandra Rodriguez and Jonathan Rodriguez conspired to dispose of a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier and submit a false automobile insurance theft claim worth more than $15,000 to Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Sandra Rodriguez falsely reported to the Vineland Police Department that her Chevrolet Cavalier had been stolen. Rodriquez also reported the purported theft to Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company. The investigation further revealed that Jonathan Rodriguez took the Chevrolet Cavalier from Sandra Rodriguez and set it on fire in Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County. The car was found by the New Jersey State Police less than two hours after it was initially reported stolen. According to the indictment, the steering column was damaged and the ignition had been tampered with. It was evident that the car had been doused with gasoline and set on fire.

The investigation was referred to the Office of Insurance Prosecutor by Rutgers Casualty Insurance Company after the claim was denied. State Investigator George Meyers, Civil Investigator Joseph Lombardo, and Deputy Attorney General Frank L. Holstein were assigned to the investigation. DAG Holstein represented the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor before the Cumberland County Grand Jury. The Vineland Police Department assisted in the investigation.

"Automobile theft in New Jersey continues to be a target of law enforcement investigation and phony automobile insurance theft claims resulting from automobile "give up" schemes remain a priority for the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor," said Fraud Prosecutor Brown. "Too many people are willing to lie to an insurance company and claim their car was stolen in order to avoid repair bills or end-of-lease payments. This indictment demonstrates our resolve to vigorously investigate and prosecute such cases.”

The indictment, which was handed up on July 21, is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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