Author Archives: Mark J. Rose, Esq.

Florida Public Adjuster Sentenced in $14M Insurance Fraud Plot

Corrupt public adjuster Jorge Fausto Espinosa recruited dozens of homeowners via his firm, Nationwide Adjusters, in an insurance fraud plot where he inflated insurance claims to the tune of $14 million.

Espinosa paid marketers to lure homeowners with free kitchens and remodeling jobs if they allowed him to manufacture damage to their homes. He earned around 30% of the insurance payouts he lined up for the homeowners. Espinosa earned payouts of more than $317,000 at times.

Insurers were pushed to pay overblown insurance payouts from claims resulting from rigged fires to water damaged. Espinosa hit at least 14 insurers with more than 50 inflated claims. He was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for racketeering and insurance fraud among many other charges.

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Filed under AOB, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud, Property Insurance

Two GEICO Adjusters Charged in Miami Insurance Fraud Ring

On Monday, July 10th, 14 people were charged in “Investigation Vehicle Roulette” conducted by Florida’s Bureau of Insurance Fraud and the State Attorney’s Office. Two GEICO insurance adjusters, Juan Carlos Diaz and Cesar Santiago Tapanes, prosecutors say got cash kickbacks for helping defraud their own company were among those arrested.

In September 2016, a Lexus GS350 was involved in a fender bender with a Chrysler 320 in North Miami-Dade. The rogue insurance adjusters reported inspecting the Lexus and authorized a series of payments totaling over $16,000. However, investigators say the accident never actually happened.

In fact, the same Lexus had been the subjection of 10 previous claims involving crashes that never occurred, all signed off by Diaz and Tapanes. The scam ended up costing GEICO more than a million dollars.

According to an arrest warrant by detectives, at least 45 bogus claims were made. The group faces charges including grand theft, insurance fraud, and racketeering.

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Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

UPDATE: Ringleader Pleads Guilty To His Role In $23 Million Auto Insurance Fraud Crime Ring

Andrew Rubinstein of Miami and the self-confessed ringleader, Felix Filenger of Sunny Isles pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge last year. Rubinstein and Filenger were paying kickbacks to tow truck drivers and body shop workers who illegally steered accident victims to chiropractic clinics they owned at a rate of $1,500 to $2,000 per “patient.” Clinic workers would then have patients attend multiple visits, document exaggerated pain levels, and bill insurance providers for treatment in the amount of $10,000, the maximum allowed under Florida law.

According to Prosecutors, the clinics were located throughout south and central Florida, including Sunrise, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando and Kissimmee.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, both sides had agreed to recommend the six-year sentence for Rubinstein. Filenger’s sentencing has been postponed. Several other people who also admitted their roles in the fraud are scheduled for sentencing later this year.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

Minor ADA Violations Cost Florida Businesses Thousands in Attorneys Fees

Central Florida businesses being sued by a Daytona Beach attorney for potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are awaiting a federal ruling to determine whether they’ll have to pay settlements in the form of attorney fees. The law forbids plaintiffs from receiving money for “relief” regardless of a court’s decision.

The alleged violations are often quick fixes, but they can cost businesses thousands in legal fees and settlement costs that could be passed on to customers.

More than three dozen Central Florida businesses have recently been hit with almost identical lawsuits filed by attorney Joe Quick. Quick represents the same four clients, often referred to as “testers” by some critics, in each lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Last legislative session, State Rep. Tom Leek introduced and passed legislation that allows business owners to hire ADA experts to inspect their businesses. Businesses are able to apply for a grace period to fix violations, but so far, only two businesses in the state have done so. Click here for more information on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s ADA Title III Registry.

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Filed under ADA, FL Legislation, Florida, Lawsuits

Ringleader Pleads Guilty To His Role In $23 Million Auto Insurance Fraud Crime Ring

According to the Sun Sentinel, Felix Filenger of Sunny Isles, pleaded guilty this week to his role in an elaborate crime ring that operated at several South Florida chiropractor clinics. The fraud totaled at least $23 million from 10 auto insurance companies over the last seven years, per court records.

Federal prosecutors say Filenger and Andrew Rubinstein took over troubled clinics and hid their ownership by having chiropractors and other people register the practices in their names. The men told chiropractors what treatments they wanted to be performed, based on the potential revenue from the services, prosecutors said. Medical staff who refused to “play ball” were fired, they said.

Filenger admitted he, and other group leaders, paid kickbacks of $1,500 to $2,000 – per patient – to tow truck drivers and body shop workers who agreed to illegally steer accident victims to chiropractic clinics that were secretly owned by Filenger and his allies.

Filenger plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy on Monday in federal court in Miami and is scheduled to go to trial on January 8.  Two co-defendants, who are still scheduled for trial that day, may plead guilty to related charges on Wednesday, court records show.

Andrew Rubinstein, 48, of Miami, is jailed on charges of racketeering and mail fraud conspiracies, wire fraud, health care fraud, and making false statements.

Olga Spivak, 59, a chiropractor from Hollywood, is free on bond. She faces the same charges.

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Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Broward County, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

According to KLTV 7 of Texas, Theodore R. Wright III, the well-known pilot who survived a 2012 Gulf of Mexico crash and used an iPad to record his time in the water, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson. Wright and three others also pleaded guilty to buying, over-insuring and ultimately destroying planes, boats, and cars to collect cash.

In May 2017, the Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, Raymond Fosdick, and Edward Delima were charged with using fire to commit a felony and aiding and abetting, arson of property used in interstate or foreign commerce or used in an activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

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Filed under Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

Panama City Woman Sinks SUV for Insurance Money

According to the Panama City News Herald, 65-year-old Debra Jenkins has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud after having her SUV driven into a lagoon and pretending that the vehicle was stolen. The police had reportedly found a stick inside the vehicle on the driver’s floorboard which appeared to be purposely placed there to hold the gas pedal after the car was removed from the water. Video evidence from Jenkins’ neighbor also showed her SUV leaving her home together with another SUV, then only the second SUV returning that night with two people inside.

Jenkins later admitted to deputies that she and a friend had devised the plan to get rid of the vehicle and claim insurance money.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

New Statute To Help Deflect Frivolous ADA Lawsuits

As reported in the Miami Herald, Florida lawmakers have implemented a new law aimed at ADA public accommodation compliance lawsuits often pressuring small businesses and property owners into quick settlements in order to avoid lengthy and costly court battles. In an analysis published in March by The News-Press (Fort Myers), of all the lawsuits filed under the ADA’s public accommodations law in Florida during the past five years, more than half of the approximately 6,000 suits were filed by just 12 plaintiffs. In addition, many of the plaintiffs are represented by the same law firms. The bill, receiving unanimous approval in both the Florida House and Senate during the 2017 legislative session, was recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott and is now in effect.

The new statute enables businesses and property owners to take substantive, preventative measures to help insulate themselves from the most frivolous claims. Under the law, a business or property owner may retain a qualified expert to conduct an inspection of their property to ensure compliance with building codes satisfying the ADA’s requirements. If the property is found to be in compliance with the ADA, the expert may issue a certificate of conformity that includes the date of inspection, proof of the expert’s qualifications, and a statement confirming that the property is in conformity. For properties that are not found to be in compliance, the owner may develop and submit a remediation plan approved by a qualified expert indicating that the property will be brought into conformity within a specified time period.

The compliance certifications or remediation plans may be filed with the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which will now maintain a publicly accessible website to serve as a registry for all of the certifications and remediation plans that it receives. Importantly, a remediation plan in existence before an ADA lawsuit is filed could serve to moot such a lawsuit.

The new law does not prohibit disabled plaintiffs from filing ADA public accommodations lawsuits, nor does it prohibit plaintiffs’ attorneys from seeking fees. It does, however, provide Florida businesses and property owners with a means to potentially defeat or limit frivolous ADA barrier-to-access lawsuits and greatly minimize their exposure to related attorney fees and costs.

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Filed under ADA, FL Legislation, Florida, Lawsuits

Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Faces Decades in Prison for Insurance Fraud

As reported by Flying Magazine, rising social media star Theodore Robert Wright III who gained notoriety for chronicling his larger-than-life flying exploits in photos on Facebook and Instagram has been charged with intentionally crashing his plane into the Gulf of Mexico to collect insurance money. Wright is facing serious prison time after federal law enforcement officials charged the 32-year-old with multiple counts of insurance fraud.

Wright and three associates (Shane Gordon of Texas, Raymond Fosdick of South Carolina, and Edward Delima of Hawaii) are charged with being involved in the destruction of a 1971 Cessna Citation, a Lamborghini Gallardo and a luxury sailboat in Hawaii, all to collect insurance payouts.

That’s not where the alleged fraud ended, prosecutors say. In an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Tyler, Texas, Wright and three associates are charged with multiple felonies. Besides the Baron, officials say Wright was involved in the destruction of a 1971 Cessna Citation, a Lamborghini Gallardo and a luxury sailboat in Hawaii, all to collect insurance payouts. Prosecutors allege the men would acquire vehicles, insure them, destroy the vehicles and then collect the insurance money, a conspiracy that lasted from March 2012 to March 2017, according to the indictment.

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Filed under Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

ROIG Attorneys Publish Ridesharing Article in Daily Business Review

ROIG Lawyers Attorneys Cecile S. Mendizabal and Lissette M. Alvarez published the article, “Ridesharing Legislation May Trigger New Wave of Litigation” in the Daily Business Review.

ROIG Lawyers Summer Law Clerk Yasbel Perez also contributed to the article.

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Filed under auto insurance, Claims Handling, FL Legislation, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault, Ridesharing, Transportation Network Companies