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Gallagher Announces Claim Fraud Arrests

7/25/2005

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

Suspects accused of filing fraudulent hurricane claims
 
MIAMI–Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that detectives with the Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) have arrested four individuals accused of filing fraudulent claims in the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season.  The investigation has uncovered more than $170,000 in fraudulent claim filings, and further arrests are anticipated. 
 
"With thousands of Floridians still working to recover from four storms, it is inconceivable that individuals would seek to illegally profit from the 2004 hurricane season," said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  "Those who choose to commit fraud and drive up premiums will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
 
Investigators found that Julio Iriarte, a licensed public adjuster in Miami, submitted falsified contractor agreements that caused overpayment of claims by more than 20 percent. 
 
Joyce Chandler, of Miami, is accused of authoring a letter on behalf of a Miami resident and representing herself as the property owner's minister, claiming the home was destroyed as a result of a tornado.  This claim was denied and Chandler subsequently acquired the property and filed a hurricane claim for more than $94,000 in property damage and additional living expenses. 
 
Two other individuals were arrested for filing fraudulent claims and are being charged with insurance fraud and grand theft.  Other arrests are anticipated.
 
 The Department of Financial Services, 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 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
 
A list of individuals arrested is below.
 

CLAIM FRAUD ARRESTS

Julio Iriarte:  DOB 06/08/79; 20001 NW 78th Court, Miami, FL; Booked in Turner Guillford Knight Jail; Charged with 2 counts Insurance Fraud 3rd degree; 2 counts Grand Theft 3rd degree, 1 count Organized Scheme to defraud.
Debra Anita Kelly:  DOB 02/18/1964, 3100 NW 48 Terrace, Miami, FL; Booked in Dade County Jail; Charged with 1 count Grand Theft 3rd degree and 1 count Insurance Fraud 3rd degree.
Adrianna Kelly Francis:  DOB 02/25/47, 3100 NW 48 Terrace, Miami, FL; Booked in Dade County Jail; Charged with 1 count Grand Theft 3rd degree and 1 count Insurance Fraud 3rd degree.
Joyce Chandler:  DOB 03/05/1951, 3055 New York Street, Coconut Grove, FL  33133, Booked in Turner Guillford Knight Jail; Charged with 1 count Grand Theft 2nd degree, 1 count Insurance Fraud 2nd degree, 1 count Insurance Fraud 3rd degree. 
 
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 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. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.