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Insurance fraud team yields convictions


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POSTED: Saturday, January 03, 2009

The number of criminal convictions for motor vehicle insurance fraud has tripled over the past three years.

               

     

 

AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

       

       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
YearCriminal indictmentsConvictions
2006 24 18
2007 47 34
2008 37 55

       

       

       

Colleen Chun, administrator for the state Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit, attributes the increase to a combination of better enforcement and more people committing fraud.

The state Legislature created the unit in 1997, but it was not until about 2000 when the unit began prosecuting cases, Chun said.

Chun said that when she became administrator in 2004, she was the only lawyer on staff to prosecute cases. The unit's investigators were at full strength last year, she said.

Last year's convictions include charges involving a Big Island woman, an Oahu auto body shop owner and a career criminal.

Last January, a state judge sentenced Beverly Lokelani Medeiros, an educational assistant in Pahoa, to five years' probation for five criminal cases in which she pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree theft, attempted second-degree theft and insurance fraud. As a condition of her probation, Medeiros spent 30 days in jail.

The judge also ordered her to pay $103,418 in restitution and $1,380 in court fees.

The state said Medeiros defrauded three different insurance companies by claiming she was unable to work because of injuries she suffered in an auto accident. She created fictitious employers and had the correspondence sent to a post office box address, the state said.

In August, Bryan Hong, owner of O'Sung Auto Body & Paint, pleaded no contest to second-degree theft for collecting money for repair work he never performed.

A state judge granted him a deferral of his plea but ordered him to repay the insurance company $3,906 and pay a $1,500 fine.

And in November another state judge sentenced Noelani Delizo to five years in prison for insurance fraud and attempted second-degree theft.

The state says Delizo obtained insurance after she was involved in a three-car accident, then tried to have her insurer pay for damages by reporting a false date of the accident.