According to District Attorney Richard Brown, the defendants are accused of deliberately causing more than 40 car accidents in Queens over the last three years aimed at capitalizing on New York’s no-fault insurance law.
Under that law, a person injured in a motor vehicle accident can receive up to $50,000 coverage for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
The charges are a result of a 19-month investigation by the Queens D.A.’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau dubbed Operation Direct Hit, which began in March 2007 when the NYPD uncovered evidence of a specific accident pattern occurring within the confines of the 109th Precinct dating back to 2005.
The investigation revealed that Tomas Aquiles, who allegedly coordinated the accidents, targeted Asian drivers because he believed the police would buy into stereotypes about Asians being poor drivers and blame them for the collisions. Typically, the “victim” vehicle was intentionally hit as the driver backed out of a driveway or parking lot.
Aquiles has been charged with multiple violations of New York’s Hate Crime Statute, which enhances an offender’s sentence if convicted.
Additionally, the investigation tracked the scheme to the Bronx Park Medical group located at 100 Dyckman Street in Manhattan, where the accident causers were instructed to forge injuries so the clinic would be reimbursed by the insurance companies.
Those posing as patients received $1,000 for their efforts while recruiters received $2,500 for each new person brought into the scam.
The 63 defendants are variously charged with enterprise corruption, insurance fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records, money laundering, criminal mischief, assault as a hate crime and conspiracy. The 12 charged with enterprise corruption face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.