N.J. Turnpike Authority Employee Admits Stealing At Least $1.5 Million
NEWARK, N.J. – A former claims manager for the N.J. Turnpike Authority today admitted devising a scheme which led to the theft of at least $1.5 million from the authority and various insurance companies, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Gerardo A. Blasi, 55, of Clifton, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with using the mails as part of a scheme to defraud the Turnpike Authority and certain insurance companies and to obtain money and property by false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2009 until June 2013, while working as the claims manager for the Turnpike Authority (NJTA) it was Blasi’s job to negotiate and recover the costs of repairs from insurance companies of motorists who caused damage to property belonging to the NJTA. With the assistance of representatives from two New Jersey-based insurance claims adjusting companies, Blasi inflated the costs to repair the damages done to NJTA property by insured motorists. The inflated claims were submitted to the motorists’ insurance companies and payment was directed through the mail to the one of the New Jersey-based claims adjusting companies instead of to the NJTA. Payments for actual costs were passed on to the NJTA, and Blasi and his conspirators shared the difference between the inflated costs and the payments for actual costs sent to the NJTA.
Despite a NJTA policy of not attempting to recover on damages caused by motorists who died from accidents on the Turnpike, Blasi continued to process those claims. Because the NJTA was unaware that Blasi had processed the claims, he was able to share the entire payment sent by the insurance company between himself and one of his conspirators. Blasi and others defrauded the NJTA and various insurance companies of at least $1.5 million.
The charge to which Blasi pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s plea. He also thanked the N.J. Turnpike Authority, under the direction of Executive Director Veronique Hakim, for its cooperation during the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Foster of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecution’s Division.
Defense counsel: Anthony Iacullo Esq., Clifton