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Former El Portal Police Officer Sentenced to Prison for Role in Staged Car Accident Ring


TALLAHASSEE – A former police officer who eluded arrest for three years is facing two years in prison and 17 years probation for arranging fake car accidents that resulted in more than $3 million in phony insurance claims.

Peter Falcon, 36, of 9000 S.W. 97th Ave., Miami, pleaded guilty Tuesday to all of the charges brought against him by the Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud. Those charges included racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and two counts each of insurance fraud, grand theft and official misconduct. Falcon was considered a ringleader.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement, Falcon is to pay more than $306,000 in restitution and investigative costs. Ten insurance companies received the bogus claims.

Department investigators brought the charges in 1998 against Falcon and 20 others – including another police officer, several adjusters and agents and a body shop operator – as part of an investigation dubbed Operation Merry-Go-Round. Falcon was considered a fugitive from December 1998 until last August when he was arrested in Hialeah on a road-rage charge.

Falcon is charged with two acts of official misconduct for preparing two fraudulent accident reports that were used in false insurance claims. He wrote the reports while working as a part-time road patrol officer with the El Portal Police Department.

Investigators said in one incident Falcon paid his cousin and the cousin's friend to participate in staged accidents and submit false insurance claims. In another, Falcon prepared an accident report that listed his roommate and the roommate's girlfriend as being in an accident while driving separate vehicles. On his report Falcon indicated that he had cited his roommate for careless driving and listed a citation number. The investigation determined that the citation number was actually issued by Falcon to another citizen for a seat belt violation.

When he fled in 1998, Falcon was also wanted by the Miami-Dade Police Department for organized fraud and grand theft. The Federal Bureau of Investigations was enlisted to assist in the search for him with negative results until his arrest last year by the Hialeah Police Department.

Falcon, allegedly using the alias of Robert Alvarez, was involved in a "road rage" incident in Hialeah in which he purposely struck another person's vehicle with his Toyota Rav4. When arrested, Falcon produced a Texas driver's license in the alias of Robert Alvarez and was arrested under that name. He was charged with aggravated battery and booked into the Dade County Jail, where a fingerprint check revealed his real identity and the outstanding warrants against him.

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.