Crashes Fake, Police Charge (4 March 1961)

Crashes Fake, Police Charge

9 Accused of Staging Accidents in State for Insurance

Hartford, March 4 – (AP) Nine men have been arrested in a State Police crackdown on what was called a ring that staged phony auto accidents for purposes of collecting personal injury and property damage insurance.

The arrests yesterday ended a three—month State Police investigation that was requested by Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Bogdanski and State Attorney John D. LaBelle.

At least one more arrest is expected.

Authorities said most of the staged accidents were rear—end crashes, through which the men arrested managed to collect “many thousands of dollars” from insurance companies.

The Hartford Area

The accidents, they said, occurred in the Greater Hartford area and date back to 1956. Capt. Samuel Rome, head of the State Police Detective division, declined to say how many accidents were staged by the alleged ring.

Those arrested were identified as Leon Cohen, 30, George Kania, 30, Roland Arvisais, 30, Leroy Hendricks, 38, John Keating, 28, Armand Lupo, Jr., 31, and Joseph Vincent, 39, all if Hartford; Stanley Pikul, 40, of Newington; and Melvin Muravnick, 25, of East Hartford.

All were charged with obtaining money under false pretenses.

Cohen and Kania were described by State Police as the men who set up the accidents. Cohen was hit with the additional charge of conspiracy to attempt to defraud a life insurance and accident insurance company.

Capt. Rome said that in most of the acidents [sic] Cohen or Kania would hire “a reputable man who needed money” to drive a car with about six of the alleged ringmembers as passengers.

“Then,” Capt. Rome said, “they’d find a truck driver – another reputable man – and pay him $300 to smash into the rear end of the car. The policewould investigate the accident and then these men would go to doctors and claim they were injured. They collected thousands.”

Judge Bogdanski requested the investigation because of what he called “incredible” testimony during suits resulting from auto accidents.

State Police began checking claims against insurance companies and found the same names turning up repeatedly.

Bond for Cohen and Kanla was set at $10,000 each. Bond for the others was set at $5,000 each.

Source: Crashes Fake, Police Charge, The Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Connecticut, 4 March 1961, pp. 1-2.

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