TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced that four Mercer County men and six of their associated businesses were charged today with first-degree conspiracy and money laundering in connection with a bank scheme involving the deposit of nearly $1.4 million in phony or forged checks related to insurance claims.
Trenton residents Wayne M. Bessant, Reyshauwn Barlow, Rayshawn Kelly, and Rashon Smith and their associated companies – Hoffman Restoration, LLC; Best Way Restoration, LLC; Wayne Enterprises Since 1981; Fast Cash Investments, LLC; JLaw & Investors, LLC; and Group of LJNMB&W, LLC – were charged in an indictment handed by a state Grand Jury in Trenton today.
The defendants allegedly conspired in a scheme to set up several phony bank accounts in the name of People’s Property Adjusters (“PPA”), a West Deptford company that assists insureds in submitting claims against homeowner insurance policies.
The defendants allegedly used the phony accounts to deposit forged insurance payout checks stolen from PPA, and also to deposit phony PPA checks purportedly made out to defendant-controlled bank accounts. The defendants then used the phony accounts to transport the illicit funds to other bank accounts, official checks, and/or other financial instruments under the control of the four men or companies associated with them, according to the indictment.
The defendants are charged as follows:
First-degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $200,000; second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; and third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Deputy Attorney General Colin Keiffer presented the case to the Grand Jury. Detectives Natalie Brotherston, Wendy Berg, Grace Proetta, Matthew Armstrong, Kirstie Krupa, and Kahlil McGrady and Investigator Thomas Andreopoulos coordinated the investigation with assistance from Analysts Theresa Worthington and Jordan Thompson.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanked the New Jersey Division of Revenue, the Pennsylvania State Police – Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, the Hamilton Police Department, and the Woodbury Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.njinsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud..