New York City Police Department

Press Release | NO. 2004-004

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 004
Wednesday, January 14, 2004



Major Automobile Insurance Fraud Investigation Nets Lawyers, Medical Doctors, Licensed Medical Professionals And Medical Clinics; Indictments Charge Thirty-Three Defendants With Bilking Insurance Companies Out Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars By Staging Accidents, Filing False Claims And Providing Unneeded Treatment

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, joined by Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and New York State Insurance Department Superintendent Gregory V. Serio, today announced multiple indictments charging a group of lawyers, medical doctors and other state-licensed medical professionals and dozens of others with taking part in a no-fault insurance fraud ring that sought to defraud insurance carriers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by staging accidents, submitting false property damage, medical and bodily injury claims and providing baseless treatment and ordering costly and unwarranted medical tests.

Police Commissioner Kelly said, "Insurance fraud is just another way for criminals to pick the pocket of the law-abiding public. This case demonstrates that no matter who is involved, they will be pursued, arrested and prosecuted."

District Attorney Brown said, "No-fault insurance fraud is increasing at an alarming rate in New York and across the country and is costing the insurance industry about $23 billion dollars nationwide each year.
The consuming public in the last analysis pays the bill because the cost of the fraud is ultimately passed on to all of us by way of ever increasing insurance premiums. With the successful conclusion of our
investigation today, we have closed down a major insurance fraud ring based in Queens County and have sent a clear message that combating insurance fraud is a top law enforcement priority."

Insurance Department Superintendent Serio said, "The arrests of medical practitioners and lawyers are particularly egregious because these individuals are entrusted by society to care for fellow New Yorkers and
uphold the law. Rather than using their licenses for good, they are using their licenses to steal from honest insurance paying consumers by defrauding the insurance system. It is through these aggressive collaborative efforts with the New York Police Department and the Queens District Attorney's office that we are sending a clear message that there is no profit in insurance fraud, only prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."

The defendants include two lawyers, eight medical doctors, two Queens medical clinics, a Brooklyn law firm, a psychologist, a chiropractor, a physician's assistant and two physical therapists. Also charged are six alleged runners, ten alleged jump-ins and a law office manager. The indictments are the result of a two-year undercover investigation by the New York City Police Department Auto Crime Division, the New York
State Insurance Department's Insurance Fraud Bureau and the Queens District Attorney's Rackets and Organized Crime Bureau.

According to the charges, the two-year investigation – Operation Sideswipe – uncovered evidence that a group of over 30 individuals – including attorneys, medical doctors and other licensed medical professionals – medical clinics in Forest Hills and Richmond Hill, Queens, a law firm in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and an ambulate transportation corporation in Borough Park, Brooklyn engaged in various schemes using middlemen and runners to submit false claims to insurance companies of over $236,000 by staging automobile accidents, submitting insurance claims for property damage, medical and bodily injury that
contained false and exaggerated information, ordering expensive and baseless diagnostic tests and equipment, and filing fraudulent lawsuits.

The defendants have been variously charged with Insurance Fraud, Grand Larceny, Falsifying Business Records, Tampering With Public Records, Falsely Reporting an Incident and Conspiracy and face up to seven years in prison if convicted. Additionally, the attorneys have been charged with Employing An Individual to Illegally Solicit Clients, a violation of the Judiciary Law.

The defendants include: attorneys Alan Blumen, 30, of 985 Lily Court Point Dejar in Morganville, New Jersey and George Vishnevetsky, 40, of 7314 21st Avenue in Brooklyn and medical doctors Azriel Benaroya, 57, 217-57 Kingsbury Avenue in Queens; Emma Benjamin, 45, 108-49 63rd Avenue in Queens; Alexandra Brodsky, 57, of 2611 East 13th Street in Brooklyn; Vasiliki Kadianakis, 37, 3810 Waverly Avenue in Seaford, New York; Vladimir Kirkorov, 54, of 21 Bennett Place in Staten Island; Leonid Slutsky, 47, of 1833 East 12th Street in Brooklyn; Milton Smith, 58, of 1000 Park Avenue in Manhattan and Huseyin Tuncel, 44, of 33 1st Street in Garden City, New York.

The indictments charge that the schemes involved two medical clinics – Lane Medical at 107-40 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills and 1st Modern Medical Care at 117-12 Myrtle Avenue in Richmond Hill – and the
law firms of George Vishnevetsky and Alan Blumen at 2649 and 2653 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn.

The indictments charge that the law firms employed two individuals – Aydin Nurizade and Valery Uskach – to cultivate and operate a stable of runners to recruit clients and sell them to the law firm for up to $3000 per client. It is alleged that the runners in turn would pay off the alleged accident victims an average of $500 to stage automobile accidents, seek protracted and unnecessary medical treatment and file fraudulent no fault claims and law suits.

The indictments charge that the defendants staged phony accidents including:

* On October 24, 2002 when defendant Philemon Benjamin, an alleged runner, conspired with five others to stage an accident at 116th Street and 111th Avenue in Queens involving a purported collision between a
1998 Mazda and a rented U-Haul truck. The defendants are alleged to have thereafter submitted no-fault insurance claims of over $60,000 for property damages and bodily injuries including neck and back pain.

* On January 24, 2003 when Benjamin conspired with two others to stage an accident in front of 952 East 107th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn involving a purported collision between Benjamin's Infinity Q45 sedan and a rented U-Haul truck. The defendants are alleged to have thereafter submitted no-fault insurance claims of over $5,000 for property damages.

* On April 11, 2003 when Benjamin conspired with eight others to stage an automobile accident at North Conduit Avenue and 134th Street in Queens involving a purported collision among a 1991 Honda Civic, a 1994
Chrysler sedan and a 1994 Accord the defendants claimed then fled the scene. The defendants are alleged to have thereafter submitted no-fault insurance claims of over $130,000 for property damages and bodily
injuries including neck and back pain.

The indictments further charge that both medical clinics provided unneeded medical tests and treatment and submitted fraudulent and exaggerated medical claims including:

* In November 2001, a 28-year-old investment banking firm project manager, an actual accident victim, went to Lane Medical in Forest Hills for treatment of injuries to her neck and back that she sustained in an
automobile accident on November 8, 2001 at South Conduit Avenue and 182nd Street in South Ozone Park, Queens. The medical clinic is alleged to have falsified this victim's complaints and diagnosis to justify the
ordering of expensive and unnecessary medical testing, treatment and equipment that included MRIs, ultrasound tests, computerized range of motion and muscle functional capacity tests and durable medical
equipment that failed to address her real injuries and complaints, and thereafter to have submitted fraudulent claims of over $30,000.

* In January 2003, an undercover police officer posing as a victim went to 1st Modern Medical Care in Richmond Hill and claimed to have been involved in an automobile accident at Jamaica Avenue and Lefferts
Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens and to have sustained negligible injury to his neck and back. The medical clinic is alleged to have fabricated the undercover's complaints, made a bogus diagnosis, and prescribed
expensive unnecessary and frequently unrendered treatment and medical testing that included physical therapy up to five days a week, monthly medical re-evaluation and pulmonary stress and nerve testing and
thereafter to have submitted fraudulent claims of over $11,000. The insurance companies allegedly defrauded include Allstate, Farmers New Century, Geico, Republic Western Insurance Company, State Farm
Insurance Company, Response Insurance Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

District Attorney Brown said his office has notified the New York State Grievance Committee for the 2nd and 11th Judicial District in Brooklyn and the New York State Education Department Division of Professional Licensing in Albany about the allegations against the attorneys, medical doctors and other medical professionals all of whom face loss of their licenses if convicted.

Police Commissioner Kelly, District Attorney Brown and Superintendent Serio commended the New York City Police Department's Auto Crimes Division, the New York State Insurance Department's Insurance Fraud
Bureau and the Queens District Attorney's Detective Squad for their professionalism in the investigation, particularly Detectives John Bakke and Robert Magrino under the supervision of Sergeant George Nash and
Lieutenant Gene Borelli and the overall supervision of Captain Michael Byrne, Deputy Inspector Howard Lawrence and Chief Douglas Zeigler, and Investigator Gary Anderson under the supervision of Supervising
Investigator August Durelli. Police Commissioner Kelly, District Attorney Brown and Superintendent
Serio also expressed their appreciation to the insurance industry for its assistance in the investigation, including Special Investigation Unit Investigators Robert Croupeau, Republic Western Insurance Company;
Mike Russell Geico; Chris Moschera, Response Insurance Company; Karen Wilcox, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Judd Vannostrand, State Farm Insurance Company.

Assistant District Attorney Karina R. Hojraj of the District Attorney's Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Chief, Marc
P. Resnick, Deputy Chief, Assistant District Attorney Peri A. Kadanoff, Supervisor, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive
Assistant District Attorney for Investigtation Linda M. Cantoni.


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