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3 Arrested for $1.5 Million in Insurance Fraud

3/26/2004

CONTACT: JoAnn Carrin, OAG
850-245-0150
Nina Banister, DFS
850-413-2842



TALLAHASSEE--Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist announced today the arrests of three South Florida residents on charges that they defrauded Chubb Insurance Company with false claims netting more than $1.5 million.

"These greedy individuals deserve to be prosecuted," said Crist. "We must ensure that Floridians won't have to foot the bill in the form of increased insurance premiums for this type of theft."

"It is estimated that insurance fraud costs the average Florida family as much as $1,400 a year in higher premiums and higher costs for goods and services," said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Division of Insurance Fraud within the Department of Financial Services. "This kind of cost can have a devastating effect on the economy, making it harder for families to make ends meet and harder for employers to maintain jobs and benefits."

Russell Mazer, 45, a Boca Raton businessman; his estranged wife Wendy J. Mazer, 34; and Neil Roeder, 42, a former Chubb insurance adjuster, have been charged with First-Degree Organized Fraud. Russell Mazer has also been charged with three counts of Insurance Fraud and two counts of First-Degree Grand Theft. All three were booked into Palm Beach County Jail.

Following a small fire at their Boca Raton home, the Mazers filed their fraudulent multimillion dollar claims with Roeder, who approved the claims after receiving over $20,000 in illicit cash payments. The insurance settlement provided the Mazers with the funds to raze and rebuild their twenty-year-old waterfront home that had structural problems due to years of seawall neglect. Additionally, the Mazers inflated claims about damage to home electronics, some of which were not even in their home at the time of the fire, and inflated their daily living expenses, submitting claims in excess of $536,000. Today, the Mazer home is a vacant lot, and the monies received from the insurance settlement were spent on other things.

The defendants face 30 years in prison for each of the First-Degree charges and a maximum of 5 years in prison for each Third-Degree charge.