'Deerly' Defrauded? 41 Charged in $5M Car-Accident Insurance Scam - Legally Weird
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

'Deerly' Defrauded? 41 Charged in $5M Car-Accident Insurance Scam

Forty-one suspects have been charged for their alleged involvement in an insurance scam involving fake car accidents and piles of dead deer.

Ronald Galati Sr., the owner of a Philadelphia auto-repair shop, is accused of being the ring leader in a scheme in which false insurance claims were filed for car-on-deer collisions. According to the New York Daily News, this fraud was worth at least $5 million.

So how were these dead deer used to make a buck?

Alleged Fraud Is All in the Family

Galati is accused of running an elaborate scam, involving at least 40 others, to trick insurance companies into thinking his customers' cars were damaged by deer in order to receive higher payouts. He allegedly wasn't alone in this scheme; his wife, son, daughter, and members of his family-owned American Collision and Auto Center were in on it, reports Philadelphia's WCAU-TV.

If the allegations are true, this Philly crew wouldn't be the first to pull this sort of car-accident fraud -- a well-known practice which can involve crooked insurance adjusters, doctors, lawyers, and auto shops. They may be unique in their use of deer carcasses, however.

WCAU reports that Galati allegedly had his accomplices store "deer blood, hair, and carcasses in the shop's garage" to be used whenever a fake deer collision needed to be photographed for insurance claims.

We're sure that garage didn't smell awful at all.

Like a Deer Under Grand Jury Indictment

This alleged deer-fraud case was under grand jury investigation for 16 months, which meant these details were largely secret until now. The Philadelphia grand jury would have heard testimony from law enforcement and other witnesses about the details of Galati's alleged criminal enterprise built on deer corpses, and it appears they heard enough to issue indictments for 41 people.

When a grand jury issues an indictment, it means that there is sufficient probable cause to believe that the suspect(s) committed the crime(s) charged. This means Galati, his family, his crooked cop friend, and various crooked insurance adjusters won't be getting a preliminary hearing, they'll be heading straight to trial.

Galati himself faces "hundreds of counts" for insurance fraud, conspiracy, and theft by deception. He'll be lucky if Philadelphia prosecutors don't mount him to their wall.

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