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Car Insurance Bribery Scheme head gets unlucky 7 in jail

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of New York


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, April 8, 2022

Senior Leader Of Massive No Fault Automobile Insurance Bribery Scheme Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison

Jelani Wray Paid Bribes To 911 Operators In Exchange For Confidential Accident Victim Information, Directed Accident Victims to an Illegal Medical Clinic that He Operated, and Received Millions of Dollars in Compensation for his Role in the Scheme.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JELANI WRAY, a senior leader of a conspiracy in which he and his co-conspirators bribed 911 operators, medical personnel, and police officers for the confidential information of tens of thousands of motor vehicle accident victims, was sentenced today to 84 months in prison.  WRAY was sentenced by United States District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.  He previously pled guilty on October 12, 2021, to making payments of bribes and gratuities to an agent of a federally funded organization. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Jelani Wray and the other leaders of this scheme brazenly exploited New York’s no fault automobile insurance laws by lining their pockets with millions of dollars in illegal profits.  In the process, they corrupted 911 operators, hospital workers and police officers; injured accident victims by depriving them of a choice in medical providers and attorneys, lying to them, and subjecting these victims to unwanted medical treatments; and caused licensed drivers in the state of New York to suffer higher insurance premiums by enabling the submission of millions of dollars in false medical reimbursement claims.  Wray and his coconspirators will now pay for their crimes, and this Office will never stop pursuing those who seek to profit by corrupting our public institutions.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, the Superseding Information, court filings, and statements made in court:

JELANI WRAY was one of several leaders of a massive no fault automobile insurance scheme spanning New York and New Jersey from at least in or about 2013 through in or about 2019.  As part of the scheme, WRAY personally bribed and arranged for others to bribe 911 operators, medical personnel, and police officers for the confidential information of tens of thousands of motor vehicle accident victims.  Using this information, WRAY and his co-conspirators contacted victims, lied to them, and steered them to clinics and lawyers handpicked by WRAY and his associates.  These clinics and lawyers then paid WRAY and his associates kickbacks for these referrals, which they distributed to coconspirators as payments and bribes.

 Specifically, in approximately 2013, while WRAY was working as the manager of a medical clinic, WRAY and a coconspirator, ANTHONY ROSE, a/k/a “Todd Chambers,” reached an agreement that for each patient ROSE sent to the clinic, WRAY would pay him approximately $2,000 to $3,000 in illegal referral fees.

Thereafter, in or about 2016, WRAY began to recruit and acquire his own “lead sources,” which were individuals willing to sell the confidential information of motor vehicle accident victims.  From approximately 2016 through in or about December 2017, WRAY bribed at least five NYPD 911 operators to provide him with the names and numbers of motor vehicle accident victims.  WRAY then transferred this information to an illegal call center that was operated by ROSE and funded in part by WRAY.  ROSE’s call center called the unsuspecting accident victims, lied to them, and then steered them to particular clinics and lawyers that were part of ROSE and WRAY’s illegal referral network.  The clinics and lawyers then paid ROSE and WRAY kickbacks by cash and check.  WRAY also similarly recruited attorneys and clinics to participate in this portion of the scheme.

Among other things, WRAY concealed his bribery of the 911 operators by providing them with prepaid “burner” phones, using encrypted messaging applications to communicate with them, and by assigning them code names.  ROSE and WRAY also received further kickbacks for steering accident victims to a particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility.  In addition, in or about 2017, ROSE, WRAY, a paralegal (“Paralegal-1”), and a physician (“Physician-1”) agreed to open a medical clinic in the Bronx (“Clinic-1”). WRAY funded Clinic-1, steered accident victims to Clinic-1, and exercised substantial control over its medical operations, which is illegal under New York law, because WRAY is not a physician. 

WRAY received millions of dollars in illegal profits from his involvement in the various aspects of this scheme.  In addition to his prison sentence, WRAY, 37 of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to forfeit $2,200,000 and pay a fine of $250,000.

*                *                *

The United States Attorney’s Office charged JELANI WRAY and 26 other defendants in November 2019.  All 27 defendants admitted guilt; 25 of 27 defendants pleaded guilty and the remaining two defendants had their prosecutions deferred.  WRAY is the sixteenth defendant to have been sentenced; ten defendants have been sentenced to serve time in prison.  The principal aspects of each defendant’s sentence are reflected in the chart below.  To date, the defendants have also been ordered to pay approximately $5 million in forfeiture from this scheme. 

Mr. Williams praised the work of the FBI, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Financial Services, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, and the White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Mathew Andrews and Louis A. Pellegrino are in charge of the prosecution.

Defendant

Age

Hometown

Principal Aspects of Sentence



JELANI WRAY,

a/k/a “Lani,”

a/k/a “J.R.”

37

Brooklyn, NY



7 years prison
3 years supervised release
$250,000 fine
$2,200,000 forfeiture ordered




NATHANIEL COLES,

a/k/a “Nat”



69

Cortlandt Manor, NY



5 years prison
3 years supervised release
$100,000 fine
$2,594,000 forfeiture ordered




ANTHONY ROSE, Jr.,

a/k/a “Sean Wells”

34

Cambria Heights, NY



2 years prison
2 years supervised release
$69,000 forfeiture ordered




CHRISTINA GARCIA,

a/k/a “Cindy”

37

Jersey City, NJ



366 days prison
3 years supervised release
$3,000 fine
$30,000 forfeiture ordered




LEON BLUE,

a/k/a “Boochie”

56

Brooklyn, NY



Time served prison (approx. two years)
3 years supervised release
$8,310 forfeiture ordered




CLARENCE FACEY,

a/k/a “Face”

36

Brooklyn, NY



6 months prison
2 years supervised release
$25,000 forfeiture ordered




ANGELA MELECIO,

a/k/a “Angie,”

a/k/a “P5”



43

Amityville, NY



Time served prison
3 years supervised release, with 6 months’ home confinement
250 hrs. community service
$8,000 forfeiture ordered




STEPHANIE PASCAL,

a/k/a “Steph,”

a/k/a “P2”

49

Brooklyn, NY

Time served prison
2 years supervised release
$2,000 forfeiture ordered


EDWARD ABAYEV,

a/k/a “Eddie”



54



Staten Island, NY



366 days prison
3 years supervised release
$20,000 fine
$18,000 forfeiture ordered




TONJA LEWIS,

a/k/a “J1”



55

Belleville, NJ



Time served prison
2 years supervised release
250 hrs. community service
$8,310 forfeiture ordered




BERLISA BRYAN,

a/k/a “Lisa”



55

Edison, NJ



Time served prison
3 years supervised release
250 hrs. community service
$20,000 forfeiture ordered




ANGELA MYERS,

a/k/a “Angie”



40

Brooklyn, NY



Time served prison
2 years supervised release
250 hrs. community service
$10,000 forfeiture ordered




SHAKEEMA FOSTER



29

Brooklyn, NY



Time served prison
2 years supervised release
250 hrs. community service
$3,000 forfeiture ordered




KOURTNEI WILLIAMS



35

Brooklyn, NY





6 months prison
2 years supervised release
$20,000 forfeiture ordered






MAKKAH SHABAZZ, a/k/a “Mecca”



45

Long Island City, NY



6 months prison
2 years supervised release
$36,000 forfeiture ordered




YANIRIS DELEON, a/k/a “Jen”



32

New York, NY

6 months prison
2 years supervised release
$10,000 forfeiture ordered


Link:

DOJ Press release

Categories: Anti-Corruption Enforcement Actions Pleas and Verdicts

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