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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7, 2019

U.S. Attorney Announces The Arrest Of 27 Individuals, Including NYPD Employees, For A Massive Bribery Scheme Relating To No-Fault Automobile Insurance Policies

The Defendants, Including NYPD Employees, Medical Personnel, and Others, Are Alleged To Have Accepted Cash Bribes In Return For Providing the Leaders of the Scheme with the Confidential Information of More Than 60,000 Automobile Accident Victims

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,  William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Anthony A. Scarpino Jr., the Westchester County District Attorney, Keith M. Corlett, Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrest today of 27 individuals – including five 911 operators and a uniformed police officer employed by the New York City Police Department (“the NYPD Defendants”) – in connection with a multimillion-dollar scheme to commit bribery and violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) (the “No-Fault Scheme”).  Twenty-three of the 27 defendants were arrested this morning in New York and New Jersey and are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein in federal court later today.  Defendant LATIFAH ABDUL-KHALIQ will be presented today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in North Carolina, and defendant KOURTNEI WILLIAMS will be presented today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Miami, Florida.  Defendant LEON BLUE, a/k/a “Boochie,” is in custody in New Jersey and will be presented in Manhattan at a later date.  Defendant TARA ROSE, a/k/a “Christine Waters,” a/k/a “Christine Hinds,” a/k/a “Taylor Hinds,” was also arrested this morning, and will be presented in Manhattan at a later date.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.

As part of the scheme, the alleged ringleader, defendant ANTHONY ROSE, a/k/a “Todd Chambers,” and his co-conspirators bribed 911 operators, medical personnel, and police officers for the confidential information of tens of thousands of motor vehicle accident victims.  Using this information, ROSE and his co-conspirators contacted victims, lied to them, and steered them to clinics and lawyers handpicked by ROSE and his associates. These clinics and lawyers then paid ROSE kickbacks for these referrals, which ROSE distributed to co-conspirators as payments and bribes.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Anthony Rose and his associates masterminded a brazen scheme that involved bribing 911 operators, medical personnel, and police officers for the confidential information of tens of thousands of motor vehicle accident victims.  These actions have undermined the integrity of our emergency and medical first responders.  This Office is committed to rooting out corruption wherever it is found, and will not rest until those who seek to profit by corrupting our public institutions are bought to justice.” 

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The charges alleged in today’s indictment describe a scheme that blatantly violated HIPAA laws and actively targeted those the act was established to protect. May today’s arrests be a reminder to everyone that capitalizing on the pain and suffering of others won’t win you any favors in the court of law.”

Westchester District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino Jr. said:  “This five-year-long collaborative investigation, initiated by my Office and the New York State Police, is significant as it has exposed the systematic flaws in the no-fault insurance laws and those who seek to abuse them.  My Office is committed to uncovering fraud and prosecuting those who profit by abuse.  The nature of this fraud and bribery results in higher insurance premiums and unnecessary medical costs which impacts us all.  Hopefully, this prosecution will act as a deterrent to those who seek to profit illegally by gaming the system.  I want to thank our law enforcement partners – U.S. Attorney Berman and the Southern District, the New York State Police, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, New York State Department of Financial Services and the F.B.I. – in rooting out this extensive corruption and bringing those responsible to justice.” 

State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said:  “It is unconscionable for any entrusted public official to use their authority or position as a public servant to take advantage of others, especially in the manner alleged.  I commend our State Police members and all of our law enforcement partners for their outstanding investigative work on this case.  It sends a clear message that no one is above the law, and such alleged abuse of power, especially when it involves the manipulation of victims, will not be tolerated.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Corruption, in all forms, is intolerable within the NYPD and we continue to work with our law enforcement partners to expose these sorts of schemes. Insurance fraud costs companies and policy holders millions upon millions of dollars a year and I want to thank the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, the New York State Police, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the NYC Department of Financial Services, the Westchester County D.A.’s office and our NYPD investigators who brought justice for victims in this case.”

According to allegations contained in the Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:  

Background of the Scheme

The charges in the Indictment result from a multi-year investigation of a widespread bribery, corruption, and kickback scheme relating to New York and New Jersey no fault automobile insurance.  Since 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office have been investigating a criminal enterprise that utilizes the New York and New Jersey no-fault automobile insurance regime to earn millions of dollars in illegal profits.

New York and New Jersey no-fault insurance laws require a driver’s automobile insurance company to pay automobile insurance claims automatically for certain types of motor vehicle accidents, provided the claim is legitimate, and is below a particular injury or damages threshold.  Pursuant to these requirements, insurance companies will often pay medical service providers directly for the treatment they provide to automobile accident victims, without the need to bill the victims themselves.  This process resolves automobile claims without apportioning blame or fault for the accident, thereby avoiding protracted disputes, and the costs associated with an extended investigation of the accident.  ANTHONY ROSE, a/k/a “Todd Chambers,” and his associates, exploited these procedures by bribing individuals with access to confidential information about motor vehicle accident victims, using this information to contact victims under false pretenses, and steering these victims to seek treatment at medical clinics and legal representation from lawyers who were willing to pay kickbacks for the referrals.   

Since at least in or about 2014, ROSE and his co-conspirators have bribed as many as 50 people, whom they called “lead sources” who, at the time they accepted the bribes, were working for federally funded hospitals (the “Hospital Defendants”), the NYPD (the “NYPD Defendants”), and other entities.  ROSE paid these lead sources as much as $4,000 per month, and continuously worked to identify new lead sources, largely through word of mouth, and through the extensive corrupt network he established.  Lead sources were paid in cash and “off the books.” In return, these lead sources unlawfully disclosed protected, confidential information to ROSE and his co-conspirators including victims’ names, contact information, and medical information.

After receiving the confidential victim information from the lead sources, ROSE and his associates provided the information to co-conspirators working at Rose’s Call Center (the “Call Center Defendants”) located in Brooklyn, New York.  The Call Center was staffed with 10 to 15 “employees,” who contacted the accident victims on a daily basis and steered them to seek medical treatment at clinics and law firms handpicked by ROSE.  The Call Center Defendants followed a pre-established “script” during these communications.  Among other things, the Call Center Defendants falsely told accident victims that they were calling from an organization affiliated with the New York Department of Transportation, and that their organization had obtained the victims’ contact information through a so-called Personal Injury Hotline. The Call Center Defendants also brazenly lied that they were calling to protect victims from people who obtain victims’ information illegally and mislead victims into seeking treatment with certain providers.  In actuality, the true perpetrators of these illegal acts were none other than ROSE and his co-conspirators.

In selecting which motor vehicle accident victims to call, ROSE instructed the Call Center Conspirators to target victims from low-income neighborhoods because, in ROSE’s view, these individuals could be more easily brought into the scheme. 

Scope and Participants In the Scheme

From at least in or about 2014 to the present, ROSE and his co-conspirators illegally steered more than 6,000 motor vehicle accident victims to participating clinics and lawyers, who paid kickbacks in return for the referrals.  In addition, this figure is a fraction of the number of actual accident victims whose confidential information was unlawfully disclosed as part of the No-Fault Scheme.  The Call Center Conspirators successfully induced approximately 1 in 10 accident victims to seek treatment or representation from participating clinics and lawyers. Thus, the No-Fault Scheme resulted in the improper disclosure of the confidential information of at least 60,000 motor vehicle accident victims. ROSE and co-conspirators further earned, on average, approximately $3,000 per successful referral.

ROSE and the co-conspirators went to elaborate lengths to conceal the No-Fault Scheme from law enforcement.  Among other deceptive tactics, the co-conspirators generally referred to one another only by aliases;  used “burner” phones with temporary and unidentifiable phone numbers, switched their phone every 60 days; set up numerous fictitious companies; corresponded through encrypted mobile applications; and utilized concealed spreadsheets, which tracked the bribe payments to lead sources, in secret email accounts that co-conspirators could access remotely.  The members of the conspiracy also assigned unique code names to each lead source, such as “J1,” “P2,” and “G6,” and used these code names to refer to lead sources during communications rather than using their true names. 

The Indictment, unsealed today, charges ROSE and the Hospital Defendants with conspiracy to violate the Travel Act, unlawful disclosure of protected health care information, and bribery.  Six other leaders of the conspiracy, including members of ROSE’s family, and the five Call Center Defendants were charged with conspiracy to violate the Travel Act.  In addition, the six NYPD Defendants were charged with conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and bribery.  The names of the defendants, the charges against them, and other information is set forth below.  

*                *                *

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Financial Services, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  Mr. Berman noted that the investigation is ongoing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, and the White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Mathew Andrews, Louis A. Pellegrino, Celia Cohen, and Courtney Heavey are in charge of the prosecution.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

 

Defendant

Age

Hometown

Charges (Potential Maximum Term of Imprisonment)

ANTHONY ROSE,

a/k/a “Todd Chambers” 

51

Jamaica, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

JELANI WRAY,

a/k/a “Lani”

a/k/a “J.R.” 

35

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

NATHANIEL COLES,

a/k/a “Nat”

 

66

Cortlandt Manor, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

TARA ROSE,

a/k/a “Christine Waters,”     

a/k/a “Christine Hinds,”     

a/k/a “Taylor Hinds”

48

Jamaica, New York

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

ANTHONY ROSE, Jr.,

a/k/a “Sean Wells”

32

Cambria Heights, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

CHRISTINA GARCIA,

a/k/a “Cindy”

35

Jersey City, New Jersey

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

LUIS VILELLA,

a/k/a “Angel Martinez”

32

Bronx, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

LEON BLUE,

a/k/a “Boochie”

54

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

CLARENCE FACEY,

a/k/a “Face”

34

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

 

ANA RIVERA,

a/k/a “Melissa Ramos”

  

41

Woodhaven, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

 

DEJAHNEA BROWN,

a/k/a “Michelle Williams”

 

29

Saint Albans, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

 

TONYA THOMAS,

a/k/a “Karen Schwartz”

 

48

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act Conspiracy.

(5 years)

 

 

 

ANGELA MELECIO,

a/k/a “Angie,”

a/k/a “P5”

 

40

Amityville, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

STEPHANIE PASCAL,

a/k/a “Steph,”

a/k/a “P2”

 

47

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

MAKEBA SIMMONS

 

29

Bridgeport, Connecticut

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

EDWARD ABAYEV,

a/k/a “Eddie”

 

51

Staten Island, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

GRACIELA BORRERO,

a/k/a “Grace,”

a/k/a “P8”

 

42

 

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

BARRINGTON REID,

a/k/a “P9”

 

60

Bronx, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

TONJA LEWIS,

a/k/a “J1”

 

53

Belleville, New Jersey

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

 

 

RAYMOND PARKER,

a/k/a “Andre”

a/k/a “J2”

 

41

Newark, New Jersey

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

BERLISA BRYAN,

a/k/a “Lisa”

 

53

Edison, New Jersey

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, Wrongful disclosure of healthcare information, federal programs bribery.

(25 years)

 

ANGELA MYERS,

a/k/a “Angie”

 

37

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

LATIFAH ABDUL-KHALIQ

 

47

Raleigh,  North Carolina

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

SHAKEEMA FOSTER

 

27

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

KOURTNEI WILLIAMS

 

33

Brooklyn, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

 

MAKKAH SHABAZZ, a/k/a “Mecca”

 

43

Long Island City, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

YANIRIS DELEON, a/k/a “Jen”

           

29

New York, New York

 

 

Travel Act conspiracy, federal programs bribery.

(15 years)

 

 

 

 

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
19-368
Updated November 7, 2019