Friday, August 14, 2009


New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Deborah Gramiccioni announced that a former Essex County insurance company employee pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal more than $94,100 through fraudulent disability insurance claims.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, LaShondrea Tucker, 32, of Plainfield, pleaded guilty in Essex County to second-degree insurance fraud, a charge contained in a Dec. 18, 2008 state grand jury indictment. A judge scheduled Tucker’s sentencing for Sept. 23. The state will recommend a sentence of five years in state prison.

Three of Tucker’s co-defendants – Erick Streeter, Louise Fedrick and Deborah Ruffin are also scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23. Streeter, 44, of Newark, pleaded guilty on April 6 to third-degree theft by deception. Fedrick, 40, of Irvington, pleaded guilty on April 6 to third-degree forgery. And Ruffin, 49, of Newark, pleaded guilty on June 18 to third-degree theft by deception. All of the charges were contained in the Dec. 18, 2008 state grand jury indictment.

In pleading guilty, Tucker, who was employed as a disability claims manager for Prudential Insurance Company, admitted that between Sept. 22, 2003 and March 23, 2004, she created fraudulent disability claims using the names and other identifiers of actual people enrolled in a teachers’ disability plan. Tucker admitted that she diverted 21 checks and two electronic fund transfers totaling over $94,100. Tucker admitted that she issued the diverted checks, which totaled $66,700, in the names of the insured individuals and sent them to Streeter. Streeter engaged Fedrick and Ruffin to assist him with the cashing of the claims checks. Fedrick admitted to forging the signatures on the checks for deposit.

The investigation further revealed that Tucker opened an Internet bank account with Net Bank. Two electronic fund transfers in the approximate amount of $27,400 were subsequently deposited into the Net Bank account representing fraudulent sick pay from Prudential Insurance Company.

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