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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Sentencing Of Former NYPD Officer Charged In Insurance Fraud Scheme

Former Police Officer Jose E. Urena Sentenced In New York County To 2 To 6 Years In Prison For Scheme To Defraud Insurance Companies

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of Jose E. Urena, a former New York City Police Officer assigned to the NYPD’s 25th Precinct, in relation to a scheme to defraud automobile insurance companies through a series of false claims. The scheme was designed to free him from financial responsibility for high-end vehicles he couldn’t afford. Urena sought to avoid making payments he owed, pocket insurance money for personal use, pay for repairs of pre-existing damage, and add expensive features to various vehicles. 

“This elaborate scheme was a brazen attempt to game the insurance system for profit,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This conviction and prison sentence sends a clear message: there must be one set of rules for everyone, including those sworn to uphold the law.”

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Auto Insurance Fraud Unit revealed that while Urena was employed as a New York City Police Officer, he submitted a series of four fraudulent auto insurance claims in two years, and filed false documents and gave false testimony in an attempt to conceal his crimes. In October 2014, Urena was arrested on an 11-count indictment in New York County. In November 2014, the Attorney General re-arrested Urena on a related second indictment in Westchester County.

According to the indictments and statements made by prosecutors, as well as Urena’s admissions in court, in May 2012, Urena falsely reported a claim to Nationwide Insurance Company that his leased 2009 Mercedes-Benz ML350 had been vandalized. After Nationwide paid $9,289.39 for the vandalism claim, Urena used the money to repair pre-existing damage to the car.

In January 2013, Urena filed a second fraudulent claim for the same Mercedes-Benz.  Just one day before his lease on the Mercedes was due to expire, when the car was almost $2,000 over the allowable mileage limit and one week after cashing a $6,242.03 insurance check for repairs that were never made, Urena reported the car stolen. In fact, it had not been stolen; he had given the keys to an individual to dispose of the Mercedes, so that he would not be responsible for any payments he owed.  Just hours after the alleged theft took place, the Mercedes was found burned out in a warehouse district in the Bronx. As part of a subsequent Nationwide investigation into his theft claim, Urena signed a notarized Affidavit of Vehicle Theft, falsely swearing that his car had been stolen.  In addition, Urena lied during a Nationwide deposition, stating that the Mercedes had been stolen and it had been in good condition when it had been stolen.

Just two months later, in March 2013, Urena was having trouble making payments on a financed 2007 Mercedes-Benz S550. To free himself from financial responsibility for that car, Urena staged an accident by rear-ending a U-Haul truck, after which his insurance company, GEICO, wrote off the Mercedes as a total loss.

Urena’s fourth false claim occurred in July 2014, when he submitted a claim to GEICO after his 2011 Dodge Charger was involved in an accident. Urena inflated the amount of the claim to cover the cost of repairing pre-existing damage to the car and to make cosmetic improvements. Urena used part of the resulting $7,503.97 insurance payout to add features to the car including a new grille, expensive tires and a painted roof.

Urena pleaded guilty in New York County Supreme Court on August 4, 2015 to one count of Insurance Fraud in the Third Degree (a Class D felony) and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony).   He was sentenced in New York County today before the Honorable Neil Ross to 2 to 6 years in prison. This sentence will run concurrently with the previous sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison that Urena received in Westchester County for his guilty plea to one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony).

Urena officially resigned his position as an NYPD officer prior to pleading guilty in Westchester County.

The Attorney General's Office thanks the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Nationwide Insurance Company, GEICO Insurance Company, Mercedes Benz, and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their valuable assistance in this case.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Investigative Counsel Nina Sas with the assistance of Supervising Legal Analyst Paul Strocko and Legal Analyst Jonathan Hofman of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau’s Auto Insurance Fraud Unit.  The Auto Insurance Fraud Unit is led by Unit Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo.  The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton.  The Attorney General's Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The investigation was handled by Investigator Adrian Klapper, Investigators Natalie Shifrin and Edward Keegan and Deputy Chief of Investigations Leonard D’Alessandro of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit.  The Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.