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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 31, 2020

Pennsylvania And Rhode Island Men Charged With Fraud And Identity Theft Offenses In Automobile Warranty Scheme

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Brian Larry, age 56, of Clark’s Summit, Pennsylvania, and Jason Pannone, age 39, of North Providence, Rhode Island, were indicted on July 28, 2020, by a federal grand jury on fraud and identity theft offenses.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Larry and Pannone, along with other co-conspirators conspired to defraud a Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company from approximately January 2014 through October 2018.  The conspirators are alleged to have created false invoices for nonexistent automobile repair work supposedly performed at various garages in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, including by forging the policy owners’ signatures on the paperwork.  The false and forged documentation was then sent to the warranty company to obtain payment for the nonexistent repairs, with the conspirators splitting the warranty company’s payments between themselves.  Larry is alleged to have been a claims adjuster at the warranty company who approved of the fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks.  Pannone is alleged to have been the owner or employee of three of the garages that submitted fraudulent claims.

Over the course of the conspiracy, the conspirators allegedly obtained in excess of $400,000 in fraudulent proceeds.  In addition to the conspiracy charge, Larry and Pannone also are charged with several counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Larry further is charged with mail fraud and with providing false statements to federal agents during the course of the investigation.

Separately, the United States Attorney’s Office unsealed charges against two other alleged co-conspirators.  Herman Cabral, age 61, of Cranston, Rhode Island, was charged in an information with conspiring to commit wire fraud.  Cabral allegedly processed false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs through his Providence, Rhode Island automobile repair shop, A Plus Collision Center LLC.  Cabral pleaded guilty on July 23, 2019, to causing between $150,000 and $250,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, and he has agreed to repay over $211,000 in restitution.

Matthew Gershkoff, age 63, of North Providence, Rhode Island, was charged in an information with conspiring to commit wire fraud, and with aggravated identity theft.  Gershkoff allegedly prepared and forged false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs at multiple automobile repair shops located in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts.  Gershkoff pleaded guilty to the charges on May 18, 2020, to causing between $250,000 and $550,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company, and has agreed to repay restitution.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo is prosecuting the case.

Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

The maximum penalty under federal law for the fraud offenses are 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.  The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory, consecutive two-year minimum.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

 

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Updated July 31, 2020