|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Gloucester County woman has been indicted for allegedly attempting to steal approximately $18,000 from an insurance company by falsely claiming that her vehicle was stolen, when it actually was being stored at a body shop following a motor vehicle accident.
Taqiyyah Gerald, 24, of Williamstown, was charged on Thursday (July 17) with second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree attempted theft by deception and third-degree tampering with witnesses.
The state grand jury indictment alleges that between Feb. 4 and June 26, 2013, Gerald attempted to steal $18,328 by creating the false impression to Progressive Garden State Insurance Company that her 2013 Hyundai Elantra had been stolen.
On Feb. 4, 2013, Gerald was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Irvington. On the day of the accident, Gerald filed a claim for the accident with Progressive. That claim was denied because her auto insurance had been canceled previously for nonpayment.
On March 4, 2013, a month after the accident, Gerald renewed her policy, but allegedly failed to tell the insurance representative about the accident. The policy was reinstated, but was not retroactive.
On April 4, 2013, she allegedly reported the vehicle stolen to Orange Police Department. The same day, Gerald allegedly filed the claim with Progressive, stating that her vehicle had been stolen.It is alleged that over the course of the next few months, in subsequent correspondence and phone conversations with representatives at Progressive, Gerald created the false impression thatthe vehicle had been stolen. An investigation determined that the Elantra had been towed to a body shop for repairs and was stored there during the alleged theft.
The indictment also alleges that on June 13, 2013, Gerald contacted the owner of the body shop and attempted to compel the owner to tell insurance investigators that he knew nothing about her 2013 Hyundai Elantra.
Deputy Attorney General Colin Keiffer, Detective Terrence Buie and Sgt. Jarek Pyrazanowski coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi thanked Progressive for referring the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of ten years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000 while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.