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Tuesday
Sep192017

L I Insurance Broker Sentenced For Fraud And Grand Larceny

Former insurance broker sentenced for fraud, grand larceny and other crimes

Kimberly GrazianoA 44 year old former insurance broker who pleaded guilty to charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, and other crimes was sentenced to three to nine years in prison today, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. 

Kimberly Graziano of Middle Island is also legally responsible to pay a total of $1.8 million in restitution to her victims.  Graziano owned and operated K.A.G. Insurance Brokerage, Inc. with offices at 3760 Expressway Drive South in Islandia. 

The investigation found Graziano and K.A.G. Insurance Brokerage, Inc. engaged in several distinct schemes to defraud a financing company, her clients, and several insurance carriers including National General Insurance, Progressive Insurance Company, MetLife, Tudor, AIG and Golden Insurance Company. 

“Our investigation found evidence that Ms. Graziano falsified contracts by inducing a financing company, Alliance Premium Funding Corp. of Floral Park, to financially back policies that purported to be for her agency’s corporate customers.  The investigation found the defendant never actually purchased insurance coverage for her clients,” DA Spota said.   “Consequently, Graziano and her firm were indicted in March of last year for the theft of more than $1 million in falsely financed insurance coverage.”   

The investigation by the Suffolk District Attorney’s Labor, Insurance Crimes and Revenue Bureau, the state Department of Financial Services Criminal Investigations Unit, the state Insurance Fund, the state Worker’s Compensation Inspector General’s office, the Department of Motor Vehicles and National Insurance Crime Bureau investigators found evidence of nearly 30 forged financing contracts totaling in excess of $1,000,000 of stolen funds from Alliance Premium Funding.  

New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said, “This broker violated the trust of the companies she defrauded and also the good faith of her clients, who believed she was providing insurance coverage for their vehicles. DFS is pleased to have worked with District Attorney Spota and other dedicated law enforcement agencies in investigating this scheme and taking action to hold this unscrupulous broker accountable for her crimes.”

In a related scheme, Ms. Graziano collected premium payments and falsified insurance cards and false Certificates of Liability Insurance coverage to convince her unsuspecting customers that they had insurance coverage in place, when in fact, they did not have any insurance.

“Her schemes began to unravel when her clients’ vehicle registrations were suspended by DMV for lapses in insurance coverage, and claims made on commercial insurance policies were being denied by the insurance carriers for lack of a policy.  She left a real mess in her wake,” said Spota.

In 2015, the license for the firm K.A.G. to operate as an insurance broker expired and no renewal application was filed.  “Despite this fact, Ms. Graziano and K.A.G. continued to operate and extend several illegal schemes that ultimately victimized several dozen firms,” said D.A. Spota. Cement truck fleet operators, towing companies, and snow removal businesses were among the victims scammed by Graziano.  Many of the defendant’s commercial clients lost business and had to deal with DMV fines as well as tens of thousands of dollars in fines assessed for operating without valid workers compensation coverage.  

“Our investigators with the assistance of our state investigate partners and the investigative units of the affected insurance carriers were able to assist those victimized companies who were cheated and consequently had their financial viability compromised,” District Attorney Spota explained.

Kevin Gallagher, the Northeast Regional Director of the National Insurance Crime Bureau said, “The National Insurance Crime Bureau would like to applaud the staff of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office for their continued efforts in addressing insurance fraud in Suffolk County. The cost of insurance fraud is shared by all consumers and this investigation sends a strong message to others who may be contemplating engaging in insurance fraud. We look forward to our continued partnership in combatting insurance fraud for all New Yorkers.”

Graziano and K.A.G. Insurance Corp. pleaded guilty to nine charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud in the first degree, three counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, insurance fraud in the fifth degree and a violation of state insurance law.  

 

Sunday
Sep102017

Smithtown Man Dies In Motor Vehicle Crash

 

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a motorcyclist in Selden today.

Jared Tepperman was riding a 2001 Honda motorcycle northbound on Boyle Road when his motorcycle struck a 2010 Honda Accord, which was also traveling northbound, at the intersection of Hemlock Street at approximately 4:10 p.m. 

Tepperman, 21, of Smithtown, was transported via Selden Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Honda, Stacey Rios, 44, and her passenger, Daniel Loria, 45, both of Selden, were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Detectives are seeking the identity of another motorcyclist who was involved in the incident and fled the scene prior to police arrival.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

Wednesday
Aug092017

WW II Veteran Edward Schaum Receives A Commack HS Diploma

 

91 year-old WW II Veteran Edward Schaum receives a Commack HS diplomaThe Commack School District Board of Education presented 91 year-old World War II Veteran Edward Schaum with a Commack high school diploma. The presentation was a surprise for Mr. Schaum and came about when his daughter Susan Felberbaum a Commack resident told Debbie Virga, community relationships consultant for the district, about her father, an Army Veteran, who told her “that he always regretted not graduating from high school.” As a teenager Mr. Schaum worked to support his family and at the age of 19 enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served from 1944 until 1946. 

Mr. Schaum served 11 months in the European and Pacific Theatres of Operations, supervised a squad in the tactical employment of weapons, and was responsible for control and coordination of machine gun squads.  He was awarded two battle stars and the combat infantryman’s badge. 

Edward Schaum and daughter Susan FelberbaumMr. Schaum finds out he is receiving a Commack HS diplomaMr. Schaum appeared stunned as Donald James, Superintendent of Schools  talked about the man they were going to present with a Commack HS Diploma. The audience was teary eyed as were Susan Felberbaum and Debbie Virga. Mr. Schaum, who was in a wheel chair in the audience stood and walked up to High School Principal Leslie Boritz who presented him with Commack High School Diploma.

“Unbelievable” is how Mr. Schaum described the event. 

 

Thursday
Aug032017

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Opioid Addiction Treatment What Can Work

SUFFOLK CLOSEUP

By Karl Grossman

After a decade of treating people with opioid use disorder, Dr. Allen Fein has been out speaking about what he has learned, what can work and “how huge” the problem is—and he is offering to give his presentation for free in as many places as possible. 

Dr. Fein is a clinical professor at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and welcomes invitations from churches, synagogues, civic and community groups and others.

He noted that at his talk last month at the Westhampton Library, a person commented, “This is a depressing talk.” 

“Yes, it is horribly depressing,” said Dr. Fein last week. “Most of these are young people. But we all need to know what is happening—and become engaged.”

As awful as people believe the situation is, it’s even worse than people think, he said. “It’s an epidemic. And what I hear from my patients is that we are losing the fight.”

He spoke of one patient telling him that three friends died after overdosing last week from fentanyl—an opioid drug “50 times” more potent than heroin, far easier to manufacture and which has been flooding this county and this country. This patient also said “half of his teammates” from a high school baseball team have “lost their lives to opioids.”  

Dr. Fein said he didn’t comprehend the sweep of the problem himself when another physician, the late Dr. Arne Skilbred, medical director at Southampton Hospital, told him a decade back about a new treatment for opioid use disorder, a drug called Suboxone, and suggested he might want to make use of it in his practice to treat addicts.

Dr. Fein said his initial reaction was “I didn’t want drug addicts in my waiting room.” But he came to realize from his work through the years that the widest variety of people are addicted to opioids “and that patients with opioid problems were already in our waiting room, unknown to the staff.” He added, “They come from all professions.”

The PowerPoint presentation at the Westhampton Library stated: “Addiction. A chronic disease of brain reward, motivation and memory, where an individual pathologically pursues reward and/or relief by substance use……with inability to abstain, impairment in behavior control, cravings, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

“Opioid addiction is life-long with recovering and relapsing phases,” it continued.

Interspersed in the Power-Point were photos of well-known people who’ve died from opioids. “Philip Seymour Hoffman…overdose of heroin. He was only 46 years old…Chris Farley…overdose of heroin. He was only 33 years old…John Belushi…overdose of heroin…He was only 33 years old.”

Dr. Fein treats with very tight supervision. He said in his decade of caring for those with opioid use disorder, “perhaps 50% have remained off their previous abused opioids and have stayed the course with the safer opioid Suboxone or with the non-opioid Vivitrol.” Also, “all patients are encouraged to seek counseling.”

Suboxone “has built-in brakes. It doesn’t provide a high. And patients on Suboxone will not overdose unless they mix in other drugs.” Vivitrol is “desired by patients who want to be entirely free of opioids.” 

Then there’s Methadone with its “main drawback that it may only be prescribed in specially operated treatment centers and very frequent visits are the norm. Suboxone usually requires monthly visits to a physician’s office. Vivitrol shots are every 28 days.”

Critically, in dealing with those with opioid use disorders, said Dr. Fein, the person doing the treatment must be “compassionate and patient—but firm….Unfortunately, the physician and loved ones of those in trouble learn that they are often untruthful and in denial.”

Likewise, said Dr. Fein, if someone believes a person in her or his family is addicted, “tough-love” should be practiced. Signs of addiction, “red flags,” include “large pupils when a person is in withdrawal and is edgy, small or pinpoint pupils when taking opioids, sweating, diarrhea” and “storing urine” likely from someone else in order to pass a drug test. “They often need pressure from loved ones and the legal system before seeking treatment.”

Dr. Fein, who is active in the New York chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is “currently treating about 150 patients with opioid problems. My practice is very busy and I’m not looking for new patients.” He seeks to get other doctors involved in providing treatment.

He’s out speaking because “I want to give back to the community.” He tells of those with opioid problems “coming into my office looking like drowned rats” but in short order “having their life back. It is very rewarding helping them.”    

Anyone with questions about these matters or with interest in having Dr. Fein address his or her group is urged to call 631-283-6446.

 

Tuesday
Aug012017

Smithtown Soccer Uniforms Make Trip Around The World

Smithtown soccer uniforms make trip around the world

Thanks to a generous donation of used soccer uniforms by the Smithtown Central School District, student-athletes in Uganda are sporting new uniforms for their tournament this year. 

Smithtown High School West marine science teacher Kimberly Williams and Smithtown High School East varsity field hockey assistant coach/Nesaquake Middle School coach Carisa Eye connected with volunteers who work with H.E.L.P. International. In a coordinated effort, the pair worked with members of the Smithtown athletic department to gather and box the uniforms. H.E.L.P. International volunteers, who were making a trip to Uganda, knew of students in need of the uniforms at the Masese School and helped facilitate the delivery. 

Photo Caption: The Smithtown Central School District donated used soccer uniforms to students at the Masese School in Uganda. 

 

Photos courtesy of the Smithtown Central School District