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July 20, 1984 - Image 17

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-20

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, July 20, 19Q4 --Page. 17
Insuranee firms lost $1 million in fake claims

young Philadelphia woman told an in-
surance claims adjuster she reported
an auto accident that never happened,
and collected insurance money, gover-
nment and industry investigators, were
naturally interested.
But James Trovarello, a U.S. Postal
Service inspector, had no idea when he
questioned the woman that he was on
the verge of unearthing one of the
biggest phony accident scams federal
authorities had ever seen.
From September 1982, when
Trovarello interviewed Linda Craig, to
the end of last month, federal grand
juries have indicted more than 180
people for staging "accidents" that cost
the insurance industry more than $1
million in bogus claims.
INVESTIGATORS have an additional
90 or so suspects and expect more indic-
tments by the end of the month.
Trovarello said he was "absolutely"
surprised by the size of the scam, which
was allegedly coordinated by a ninth-
grade dropout working as manager of a
Center City Philadelphia law office.
"I didn't think a scheme like this
could operate on the magnitude it did,"
said Trovarello.
THE FIRST indication something
was amiss came on the last day of
summer 1982. An adjuster from the
J.C. Penney Casualty Insurance Co.

called John Hoda, an industry in-
vestigator from Philadelphia, to tell
him about Linda Craig.
Craig had told the adjuster that her
cousin, Aseneth Livingston, had
proposed a way to make some easy
money: report that she'd been driving a
car that struck an auto with four
Hoda, a special agent for the In-

he thought only four or five people were
involved in filing false claims.
Trovarello went to the Mid-East In-
dex Bureau, an insurance industry in-
formation clearinghouse, with the
names of the four "victims" of the "ac-
cident" Craig had described.
Each of the four had previously
reported they had been invoved in ac-
cidents in which four or five others

'People were getting taken, but who were
they going to complain to? They couldn't
go to the police.'
- John Hoda
J.C. Penney Casualty Insurance

Livingston, the postal inspector said,
"It became quite clear that there was a
large and elaborate scheme to defraud
going on here, and that there was
someone behind it named 'Big Mama."'
ARREST AND search warrants for
people implicated - the number grew
to 40 within three weeks - also
provided crucial evidence in the form of
a notebook Livingston kept. It listed Big
Mama's phone number.
Big Mama, as it turned out, was
Mable Ketter, a huge woman with a
booming voice who was a key figure in
the operation. She was a "runner"
bringing alleged accident victims to the
law firm of Rosenfield, Ring & Benn,
Trovarello said.
ACCORDING to court testimony, the
participant from north Philadelphia
would gather around Ketter's kitchen
table and decide who would be the vic-
tims and who would be the "hitters" in
the accident.
Once they had their stories down,
they would go to the Rosenfield law of-
fices, where William Mele, the office
manager, would usually accept the
case for the firm.
"You don't call Bill until you got it all
together," testified Ketter in December
at Mele's trial. "Then you call Bill Mele
when you got something to tell him."

surance Crime Prevention Institute, an
investigative arm financed by the in-
dustry, contacted Trovarello because
early evidence indicated suspects were
using general delivery postal box.
THE TWO went to Craig's north
Philadelphia home to see if she had
more to say.
The woman told them she was to have
been paid $250 for her participation.
"She had a belief that it was a very
big scam," recalled Trovarello.
AT FIRST, the postal inspector said,

were injured. Trovarello investigated
and found that none of the accidents
had actually occurred.
"IMMEDIATELY, it blew up,"
Trovarello said. "And it just kept
Craig agreed to wear a concealed
tape recorder and to allow her home
telephone calls to be recorded.
"She became a very good infor-
mant," Trovarello said.
After one particularly revealing
phone conversation between Craig and

Jackson asks blacks to support Mondale
{Continued from Page h1)
booed King and Young on the conven- manager, discounted suggestions that believed most likely to disrupt the par-
"We're entering a new phase of the tion floor, and said he was embarressed blacks will be leaving the convention ty, Mondale forces did what was
campaign," King said entering the by their behavior. empty-handed. "Nothing can be further divisive," he said, referring to Mon-
meeting. "Unity comes from working Although Jackson told the convention from the truth," he said. dale's appointment of Georgia state
together." Tuesday nightthat he would work for MONDALE HAS promised to include Democratic chairman Bert Lance as
King added that "you win some and the nominee, Lamont Godwin, a top blacks in leadership positions in his his general campaign chairman.
you lose some ... The negotiation is still Jackson aide, said the campaign wants campaign and, if he is elected, in his
going on." "rainbow person" - from the civil administration. Godwin said the Jackson camp can-
JACKSON CALLED for the unity, rights leader's political constituency - Although Jackson has pledged his not make its campaign machinery work
meeting Wednesday during a speech as co-chairmain of both the Democratic support, Godwin said, "There are some for Mondale unless there is a smooth,
before a' caucus of black convention National Committee and the Mondale of our people who are not as con- harmonious relationship among blacks.
delegates. In that speech, he repriman- campaign. siliatory." "That's what's being negotiated
ded delegates who had heckled and Arnold Pinkney, Jackson's campaign "Even though we were the ones now," he said.

Candidates fought

long, hard
(Continued from Page 8)
consideration from afar.
The National Organization for
Women threatened a floor fight if a
woman was not chosen, and reports
surfaced that Geraldine Ferraro, a
three-term member of Congress and
former prosecutor from Queens, N.Y.,
had flubbed her interview.
On July 11, Hart said for the first time
that he would take the No. 2 job if
But he was too late. Ferraro flew to
Minnesota that night, and at noon on
July 12, she and Mondale entered the
chamber of the Minnesota House of
Representatives in St. Paul - the same
forum in which Mondale had announced
his own candidacy on Feb. 21,1983.
"History speaks to us today. Our
founders said in the Constitution, 'We
the people,' not just the rich or men or
whites but all of us," said Mondale.
"our message is that America is for
everyone who works hard and con-
tributes to our blessed country. That's

what my choice is about and that's what
Gerry's about. The story of her road
from the Ferraro home to this moment
is really a story of a classic American
dream. She's earned her way here
The convention was still four days
away, but it was all over but the
shouting. Mondale had locked up the
nomination and chosen a running mate
who will be the first woman in U.S.
history to run for the second-highest of-
fice in the land on a major-party ticket.
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