TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that a Florida man was sentenced to nine years in state prison today for filing more than $1.2 million in false claims for refrigerated cargo purportedly spoiled in cross-country transport by his long-haul trucking companies based out of Middlesex County, NJ.
Palm Coast, Florida resident Alexei Legassov, 55, also must pay $1,286,911 in restitution to two insurance companies under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca, Jr. in Middlesex County today.
In January, Legassov pleaded guilty to second-degree insurance fraud and misconduct by a corporate official. The charges stem from crimes Legassov committed in connection with several long-haul trucking companies he owned and/or operated in Middlesex County, including Akmos Trade Limited; Moon and Eggplant Limited; Passing Score LLC; and G.K. Refrigerated Line, LLC.
Between July 2012 and May 2017, under the guise of his various cargo hauling companies, Legassov submitted more than a dozen fraudulent insurance claims for losses purportedly incurred when truck refrigeration units broke down in transport, damaging and/or destroying fruits, vegetables, frozen cakes and other refrigerated goods. In reality the cargo never existed or had not been damaged or destroyed.
“Cargo fraud has a trickle-down effect that impacts everyone. It drives up insurance premiums for honest trucking companies, which increases the cost of transporting food. As a result, we all pay higher prices at the grocery store,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The significant prison sentence this defendant received should serve as a deterrent to other business owners tempted to illegally pad their bottom line by cheating carriers that insure cargo vital to commerce.”
To support his fraudulent claims for losses, Legassov submitted fabricated invoices and other falsified documents to his insurance carriers.
“Instead of making money as a legitimate businessman, Legassov tried to cheat his way to riches in an elaborate scheme to defraud his insurance providers,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson. “Today he faced the consequences for his deceit and greed. We will continue to investigate and hold accountable corrupt individuals who use their businesses for criminal profit.”
Legassov was ordered to pay $1,189,727.39 in restitution to Harleysville Insurance Company (“Harleysville”), which has now merged with Nationwide Insurance Company. He also must pay $97,183.54 in restitution to American International Group (“AIG”).
Deputy Attorney General Kelly Levy represented the State at sentencing. Detectives Taryn Seidner, Natalie Brotherston, and Matthew Armstrong coordinated the investigation with the assistance of analysts Greg Nolan and Terry Worthington. Additional investigative assistance was provided by the New Jersey State Police. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanked Investigator Michael Graziose of Harleysville’s Special Investigations Unit and AIG’s Special Investigations Unit for their assistance in the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.njinsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.
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