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Post date: September 14 2016

A.G. Schneiderman And Tax Commissioner Boone Announce Conviction Of Queens County Body Shop Owner

 News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2016

New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-776-2427
nyag.pressoffice@ag.NY.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN AND TAX COMMISSIONER BOONE ANNOUNCE CONVICTION OF QUEENS COUNTY BODY SHOP OWNER

Defendant Aniello Strocchia, Owner Of BM Auto Collision, Inc., Pleads Guilty To Insurance Fraud And Tax Fraud; Must Pay $500,000 Restitution

Schneiderman: Those Who Attempt To Skirt The Law To Line Their Own Pockets Will Be Caught And Will Face Serious Consequences

 

NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Boone announced today the guilty plea of Aniello Strocchia, 43, owner of BM Auto Collision, Inc., headquartered in Maspeth, New York.  Strocchia pleaded guilty today in Queens County Supreme Court to defrauding insurance companies and failing to pay sales tax to the state.  As part of his plea, Strocchia agreed to pay $500,000 in restitution to auto insurance companies and the Department of Taxation and Finance.

“Defrauding our insurance and tax programs ends up hurting hardworking New Yorkers who play by the rules and pay their fair share. As my office has shown, those who attempt to skirt the law in order to line their own pockets will be caught and will face serious consequences,” said Attorney General Schneiderman

“Intentionally pocketing sales tax money for personal gain is not only stealing from New York State, it’s a violation of customer trust,” said Commissioner Boone. “Today’s penalty should serve as a stern reminder to all sales tax vendors that failing to remit the proper amount of money to the state can have serious consequences. Our department will continue to work tirelessly with prosecutors at all levels, including Attorney General Schneiderman and his team, to make sure criminals who defraud government pay a stiff penalty.”

Today's conviction is the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit (AIFU) of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, together with the Criminal Investigations Division of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (CID).   

AIFU’s investigation revealed that Strocchia and his auto body shop, BM Auto Collision, Inc. (“BM Auto”), defrauded insurance companies by adding damage to mostly high end vehicles and then billing the insurance companies for unnecessary, partly performed, or wholly unperformed work.  

In addition to the insurance fraud investigation, AIFU conducted a parallel investigation with CID into tax evasion by Strocchia and BM Auto. This investigation uncovered that Strocchia had underreported company revenue by over $480,000 over a two-year period in an effort to avoid paying sales tax.

Today, Strocchia entered a guilty plea in Queens County Supreme Court to one count of Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor.  Strocchia admitted that between September 2012 and December 2014, he and his employees systematically added damage to vehicles brought to BM Auto for repair, and then submitted fraudulently inflated vehicle repair estimates to insurance carriers. Strocchia further admitted that between March 2011 and February 2013, he failed to remit sales tax due by BM Auto to the Department of Tax and Finance. 

As part of his plea, Strocchia agreed to pay $500,000 as restitution to auto insurance companies and to New York State. Strocchia is scheduled to be sentenced to 5 years’ probation on December 6. 

The Attorney General thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau and GEICO for their valuable assistance in this investigation. 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Timothy McNutt of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Supervising Legal Analyst Paul Strocko. The Auto Insurance Fraud Unit is led by Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton.  The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The Attorney General's investigation was conducted by Investigators Olga Lokshin, Elsa Rojas and Adrian Klapper, under the direction of Investigators Edward Keegan and Natalie Shifrin and Deputy Chief Leonard D'Alessandro of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Forensic accounting was performed by Dmitry Temis and Alex Ozechowski of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit.