For Immediate Release - April 01, 2008

Six People Indicted in Connection with Orchestrating Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Insurance Claims

BOSTON – A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against six people in connection with their participation in staging motor vehicle accidents to scam insurance companies. The six defendants- Fred Battista, age 46, of Revere, his stepmother Laura Battista, age 58, of Weymouth, David Forlizzi, age 47, of Hudson, NH, William Penta, age 44, of Revere, Janet Vaccari, age 46, of Reading, and Vaccari’s daughter Deana Pistone, age 25, of Wakefield,  are charged as follows:

Fred Battista:      
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (3 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (2 counts)
Larceny by False Pretenses (2 counts)
Attempted Larceny

Laura Battista:    
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (2 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (2 counts)
Larceny by False Pretenses (2 counts)

David Forlizzi:     
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (3 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (3 counts)
Larceny by False Pretenses (2 counts)
Attempted Larceny
Habitual Offender

William Penta:
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud (2 counts)
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud
Larceny by False Pretenses
Attempted Larceny

Deana Pistone:    
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud 
Attempted Larceny

Janet Vaccari:           
Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud
Conspiracy to Commit Motor Vehicle Insurance Fraud
Larceny by False Pretenses

 

An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office began in July 2007 after the matter was referred by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).  During the course of the investigation authorities discovered that on various dates between May 2006 and June 2007, fraudulent claims involving three staged accidents were submitted to insurance companies.  Authorities allege that Penta, Vaccari, Pistone, and Laura Battista knew Forlizzi and Fred Battista, both employees of Winthrop Collision Center, also known as Collision Headquarters, were willing to pay people to submit fraudulent motor vehicle insurance claims. Investigators believe that Forlizzi and Fred Battista schemed to collect insurance money from these staged accidents.

One of the accidents involved Janet Vaccari, who submitted a claim to her insurance company Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation (PRAC), stating that she had been involved in a motor vehicle accident with Laura Battista. PRAC paid Vaccari’s claim, and also paid Laura Battista based on the fraudulent information given by Vaccari. Vaccari signed over her insurance check to the Winthrop Collision Center for repairs on her vehicle. Authorities discovered that David Forlizzi assisted Vaccari in staging this accident with the help of Laura Battista, and her stepson, Fred Battista.

During the investigation authorities discovered that a second fraudulent claim was submitted by Deana Pistone to her insurance company, also PRAC, alleging that her vehicle had been vandalized.  She claimed to PRAC that as a result of the vandalism she brought her car to Winthrop Collision Center for repair. She later withdrew her claim after PRAC began investigating the incident. Pistone admitted that the claim was false and that Forlizzi convinced her to submit a false claim.

A third claim found to be fraudulent was submitted by William Penta, who stated to his insurance company, National Grange Mutual Insurance (NGM), that he had struck a parked vehicle belonging to Laura Battista.  NGM paid the claim for the damage to the vehicle which Penta was driving, and also paid Laura Battista for the alleged damage to her vehicle. Penta also filed a Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) claim for injuries sustained in the accident. Investigators discovered that Penta had known Fred Battista prior to the staged accident, and it is through this relationship that Penta became involved in the insurance fraud scheme.

A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against all of the defendants on Thursday, March 27, 2008. They are scheduled to be arraigned on April 15, 2008, in Suffolk Superior Court.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joshua Pakstis, of Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division. Investigators Giovannino Cappucci and Sean Kelley of the IFB also assisted with the case.

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