Five people pleaded guilty to their part in an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that took nearly a year to plan and carry out.
Cindy and David Morgan of Utica, New York, owned a struggling restaurant . The couple, along with a group of accomplices, hatched a scheme to make some fast money.
On the morning of March 20, 2006, Michael Matrulli rented a Ryder truck and took out a $1 million insurance policy on it. He drove the truck down Harbor Lock Road.
Matrulli, David Morgan, Joseph Demme and Joseph Dellebra met the morning of the accident to work out the final details.
Cindy Morgan and Dellebra, who prosecutors say developed the plan, were sitting in a an in front of the Morgan’s restaurant.
Matrulli allegedly drove the Ryder truck head-on into the Morgan’s van.
According to Syracuse.com, Morgan told authorities she had been traveling southwest on Harbor Lock Road as Matrulli was heading north and crossed the center line and struck Morgan’s van head-on.
Matrulli was ticketed for failure to “keep right” and Morgan and Dellebra were transported to the hospital. The responding officer noted that “minor injuries” were sustained, Syracuse.com reported.
Doctors diagnosed Morgan with bulging disks. She was declared partially disabled and underwent physical therapy. Mutual of Omaha paid her $108,000 in disability insurance.
Morgan and Dellebra’s insurance policies covered their medical expenses.
Morgan filed a civil suit against Ryder for her personal injuries. Ryder agreed to pay Morgan $30,000.
Dellebra also sued Ryder. In July of 2009, he settled with the company for nearly $700,000. Dellebra told the court that injuries from the accident prevented him from working and also caused “great mental pain and physical anguish.”
Dellebra allegedly gave $120,000 to Joseph Demme, who introduced Dellebra to the co-conspirators.
In total, five insurance companies were defrauded: Old Republic, Geico, Progressive, Mutual of Omaha and Metropolitan.
The incident was investigated by the FBI and New York State Insurance Fraud Bureau.
The Morgan’s attorney accused Demme of being the “ringleader,” saying he hired Matrulli to drive the truck into the van.
In addition, Morgan and Dellerba were ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution.
Morgan’s husband, David, Matrulli and Demme have all pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
The others — David Morgan, Matrulli and Joseph Demme — await sentences from federal court. All have pleaded guilty to various levels of fraud.