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Former Miami Police Officer Arrested for Buying Accident Reports for Possible Solicitation Scheme

11/1/2002

MIAMI - A former City of Miami police officer is facing numerous felony charges after he allegedly bought more than 280 police accident reports for $25 each from an undercover officer and offered a second officer $1,000 a week to provide accident reports, Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher announced today.

Fraud investigators with the Department of Insurance believe Jesus Joaquin Del Rio, 38, of 4900 S.W. 165 Ave., Miramar, intended to use the information in the accident reports to solicit accident victims and send them to two medical clinics he owns. Del Rio, a police officer with the City of Miami from May 1986 to May 1999, was arrested Thursday at his home by investigators with the department's Division of Insurance Fraud. His wife, Noemi, also is facing charges stemming from the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted in cooperation with the Internal Affairs unit of the Miami Police Department.

Since 1999, the Division of Insurance Fraud's Miami office has made 389 arrests related to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance fraud. PIP fraud schemes can range from staged accidents to solicitation of accident victims by medical clinics for the purpose of billing the PIP portion of insureds' auto insurance, often for treatment never rendered. Florida law requires registered vehicle owners to carry a minimum of $10,000 PIP coverage.

"PIP fraud is a pervasive problem that costs us all when it comes time to pay premiums," Gallagher said. "Arrests stemming from these schemes account for approximately half of the departments' insurance fraud arrests in Dade County."

Those PIP-related arrests have included 26 different clinic owners, 24 clinic employees, 13 doctors, 39 different runners, and 276 patients, including 228 who participated in staged accidents. Some individuals, like Del Rio, were arrested more than once.

The division began investigating Del Rio after receiving information that he was attempting to illegally obtain accident reports from sworn police officers of the Miami Police Department. This followed a change in Florida law last year exempting accident reports from the public records law for a period of 60 days. Now, only the persons involved in the accident, their lawyers, their insurance companies, and credentialed members of media can obtain accident reports within the first 60 days.

Del Rio's arrest on Thursday was on charges of bribery and unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior. Investigators said Del Rio in July attempted to solicit a sworn City of Miami police officer to provide accident reports for as much as $1,000 a week. The officer declined Del Rio's offer and reported the solicitation to her supervisors.

Del Rio was first arrested on Aug. 14 as he paid for and picked up a package of accident reports from an undercover City of Miami police officer during a five-month undercover investigation. Del Rio was charged with unlawful possession of accident reports, bribery and unlawful compensation or reward for official behavior. The following day, Del Rio's wife was arrested when investigators found accident reports in her possession during a search of the Del Rios' home.

Del Rio allegedly paid the undercover officer $25 each for 283 accident reports. Investigators believe that Del Rio purchased the reports in order to solicit the accident victims to his two medical clinics. Del Rio's clinics are Miami Rehab, Inc., located at 13743 NW 7 Ave., Miami, and South Dade Medical & Rehab, Inc., located at 5769 NW 7 St., #141, Miami. Del Rio opened the second clinic, South Dade Medical & Rehab, in April 2002 after the department's investigation had started.

Del Rio and his wife also were arrested on Sept. 12 after a review of the evidence seized in the search warrant at their home revealed that Del Rio had also illegally obtained confidential information involving accident victims from GEICO Insurance Company. Each was then charged with offenses involving intellectual property.

The City of Miami Police Department's Internal Affairs unit worked with the Division of Insurance Fraud in this investigation.

The Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading to a conviction.