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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 9, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor
Greta Gooden Brown,
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor


Rachel Sacharow


Former Union County Insurance Company Employee Sentenced to County Jail after Pleading Guilty to $19,000 Insurance Fraud

TRENTON - Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that a State Farm Insurance Company employee has been sentenced to county jail and was made responsible for paying more $19,300 after pleading guilty to creating fraudulent insurance claim checks.

According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Lola Ruth Byrd, 38, Elmwood Place, Plainfield, Union County, was ordered by Union County Superior Court Judge John S. Triarsi to serve 220 days in county jail, followed by three years probation and to pay $2,500 in restitution. In addition, Byrd signed a Consent Judgement ordering her to repay more than $19,300. The sentence was pursuant to Byrd=s Feb. 14 guilty plea to theft by deception.

At the guilty plea hearing in front of Judge Triarsi, Byrd, a State Farms Insurance Company claims service assistant, admitted that between Dec. 19, 2001 and Feb. 15, 2002, while employed in the company’s Cranford Fire Insurance Division, she generated ten State Farm Insurance drafts payable to another person, Sherman McNeil. According to the March 31, 2004 indictment, McNeil had no connection to any of the old property loss files that Byrd accessed to create the phony claims checks. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Byrd would access closed claims files, create fraudulent insurance claims checks as if McNeil had sustained property losses and was entitled to insurance claim money, and then immediately close the claims files. The investigation further determined that, in addition to her computer terminal, Byrd would generate the false claims on a co-worker’s computer terminal and also the main switchboard terminal.

State Investigator Janet Wustefeld, Civil Investigator Andre Mitchell, and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Vasile were assigned to the investigation. DAG Vasile represented the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor at the Sept. 2 sentencing. The investigation was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor by State Farm.

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