CFO Sink: Insurance Fraud Investigation Lands South Florida Attorney in Prison
CONTACT: Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
Disbarred lawyer will spend a year in prison for stealing insurance funds
PEMBROKE PINES – Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today that a South Florida attorney has been disbarred and has been ordered to surrender on Nov. 7, 2008, to serve 366 days in a Florida prison after an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DFS) led to numerous felony charges for stealing insurance settlement payments from clients.
Anthony Scalese, of Pembroke Pines, was convicted and sentenced Friday by Broward County Circuit Judge Pedro Dijols. He was arrested in April 2008 on charges of organized fraud, grand theft, and uttering forged documents, and faced a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison. He pleaded no contest to two felony charges of organized scheme to defraud and forgery. In addition to the disbarment and prison sentence, Scalese was ordered to serve 15 years probation, pay more than $78,000 in additional restitution for a total of $113,500 in restitution to the identified victims, and pay more than $1,600 for investigative costs. If Scalese fails to surrender on November 7, 2008, he will be sentenced to 35 years in prison.
“Floridians depend on their attorneys to advocate on their behalf, and this attorney deserves to spend time behind bars for violating that trust,” said CFO Sink, who oversees DFS. “It is just patently wrong when consumers have to fight not only their insurance companies but their attorneys as well.”
DFS lead detective Gary Schiaffo found that Scalese had received settlement monies from insurance carriers on behalf of his clients but never forwarded the funds to the clients that needed the money. Instead, Scalese deposited the funds into his personal account. Scalese was initially arrested on December 19, 2007, based on similar allegations. Then, Detective Schiaffo uncovered four more victims and advised Assistant State Attorney David Schulson, which led to additional charges.
DFS offers a reward of up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest or conviction. To report suspected fraud, call 1-877-My-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) and ask for the Fraud Hotline.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.