EIGHT ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF ILLEGALLY OBTAINING CRASH REPORTS THROUGHOUT THREE COUNTIES
Several posed as reporters to gain access to the reports
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement have arrested eight individuals on charges of illegally obtaining traffic accident reports from police departments throughout Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. Several posed as reporters to gain access to the reports.
The information was used to solicit accident victims to go to medical clinics and auto body shops for the purpose of collecting money on fraudulent auto insurance claims. The police departments involved are not suspected of any wrongdoing and supported the investigation. In Florida, access to traffic accident reports is restricted during the first 60 days, and those who access the information cannot use or disclose the information for the purpose of solicitation.
“This ongoing investigation indicates these individuals had no legitimate reason to possess the accident reports and that they intended to use the information to fraudulently bill insurance companies,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services and Division of Insurance Fraud. “I thank the investigators for working so hard to protect Floridians from the burden of this kind of fraud.” In the last two months, DFS investigators have arrested more than 50 individuals throughout Florida for various auto insurance fraud scams. The department’s fraud division has arrested more than 900 individuals associated with $25 million in auto insurance fraud in the last five years.
Several gained access to the confidential accident reports by pretending to work for media publications, such as Impact News Weekly, South Florida Journal and Greek American Herald. Investigators said they saw Charles Raefield Rhodes, 58, receive bulk crash reports from his son, 22-year-old Courtney Gissendanner, at Rhodes’ Hollywood home, where he had several women making phone calls to solicit accident victims.
Jose Manon, 60, 461 SW 112 Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Edward Phillips, 55, 101 S. Cortez Drive Circle North, Margate
Charles Raefield Rhodes, 58, 2718 Pierce St., Hollywood
Kathi Rodriguez, 31, 371 NW 42 Ave., Coconut Creek
Thomas Vallorani, 56, of Tamarac
Marcus Sanford, 66, of Miami
Gadsden, Florida's fifth county, was formed in 1823. It once ran from Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Suwannee River to the Apalachicola River. Quincy, the county seat, was incorporated in 1828. The courthouse, above, was built in 1912.