TRENTON – A Middlesex County auto body shop owner pleaded guilty last week to defrauding numerous insurance companies out of a total of nearly $52,000, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, Divyakant Patel, 46, of Iselin, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Frederick P. DeVesa in Middlesex County to an accusation which charged him with third-degree theft by deception.
DeVesa scheduled sentencing for Feb. 28. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend Patel be sentenced to a term of probation. Patel will be ordered to pay full restitution. New Jersey law provides that there is a presumption against any sentence of incarceration for a person convicted of a third-degree crime who has not previously been convicted of an indictable offense.
In pleading guilty, Patel, the owner of J&R Body Masters, located in Perth Amboy, admitted that between Nov.16, 2006 and May 20, 2010, he fraudulently obtained a total of $51,946 from various insurance companies by creating the false impression that invoices for various automobile parts submitted with bills for payment for repairs done by J&R Body Masters were invoices from the actual automobile parts vendors when, in fact, the invoices were fraudulently created documents.
The insurance companies from which Patel stole the monies were: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, High Point Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, 21st Century Insurance, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance, GEICO, Allstate Insurance, SIA Insurance, Mercury Insurance, Progressive Insurance, Palisades Insurance, Ameriprise/IDS Property and Casualty, Met Life and Hanover Insurance.
Dagli thanked Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Highpoint Insurance Company and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for their assistance in the investigation. The investigation began when both Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice.
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