November 21, 2005
MIAMI — Two brothers who are accused of being the ringleaders of an insurance fraud ring are under arrest, along with seven others.
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced the arrests Monday of eight members of an alleged staged crash ring accused of filing more than $100,000 in fraudulent insurance claims from a single faked accident.
Investigators said Jimmy Desir, 27, and Nildo Desir, 29, planned and recruited the participants. Three clinics were involved in the scam, including a chiropractor who was previously arrested for insurance fraud and grand theft, according to investigators.
In addition to the Desir brothers, the others arrested were Benitho Alcide, 24, of North Miami; and Raphael Dieudonne, 31; Patrick Dieudonne, 27; Andy Metellus, 20; Jimmy Prevot, 19; and Baselais Prudent, 24, all of Miami.
All eight are charged with 13 counts each of insurance fraud and grand theft. Patrick Dieudonne is already facing a minimum sentence of two years in prison for a prior staged accident.
Chiropractor Mia Higginbotham was also arrested on Oct. 21, 2004, on insurance fraud and grand theft charges. Those charges are still pending.
Insurance fraud detectives said the Desir brothers organized but did not participate in the staged crash. They said the six men who did participate went to three medical clinics: PR Medical (Sante Medical Services); Biscayne Health Group, 700 NE 90 St, Miami; and Mia Higginbotham, DC.
Gallagher said that in staged accidents, the planners and organizers, usually in connection with clinic owners, target the personal injury protection insurance of drivers, and bill an average of $10,000 per accident “victim.”
The Miami office of the Division of Insurance Fraud has made more than 970 arrests with charges in excess of $31 million in personal injury protection insurance fraud, including more than 660 patients, 73 clinic owners, 27 doctors, 66 clinic employees and 135 runners.
“Insurance fraud is saddling Florida families with hundreds of dollars in additional premium costs,” Gallagher said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who commit fraud and work with the Legislature to develop hard-hitting laws to put these con artists behind bars.”
Next year, Gallagher said, he will ask the Legislature to require medical clinics to post insurance fraud posters touting the department’s reward program. He also will ask the Legislature to implement a minimum two-year prison sentence for those who commit phantom and paper accidents. He will also ask to renew and tighten restrictions on the release of police accident reports.