Senior Leader of No-Fault Auto Insurance Massive Bribery Scheme Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced that JELANI WRAY, a senior leader in a conspiracy in which he and his accomplices bribed 911 operators, medical personnel, and police officers to obtain confidential information from tens of thousands of car accident victims, was sentenced today to 84 months in prison. WRAY was sentenced by US District Judge Paul G. Gardephe. He previously pleaded guilty on Oct. 12, 2021, to making payments of bribes and gratuities to an agent of a federally funded organization.

US Attorney Damian Williams said, “Jelani Wray and the other leaders of this scheme brazenly exploited New York’s no-fault auto insurance laws by lining their own pockets with millions of dollars in illegal profits. In the process, they corrupted 911 operators, hospital workers, and police officers; injured accident victims by depriving them of choice of medical providers and attorneys, lying to them, and subjecting these victims to unwanted medical treatment; and caused licensed drivers in New York State to suffer higher insurance premiums by allowing millions of dollars in bogus medical reimbursement claims to be filed. Wray and his accomplices will now pay for their crimes, and this Office will never stop going after those who seek to profit by corrupting our public institutions.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, Superseding Information, court documents, and statements made in court:

JELANI WRAY was one of several leaders of a massive no-fault auto insurance scheme that spanned New York and New Jersey from at least around 2013 to around 2019. As part of the scheme, WRAY personally bribed and arranged for others to bribe 911 operators, medical personnel and police officers for the confidential information of tens of thousands of car accident victims. With this information, WRAY and his accomplices contacted the victims, lied to them and directed them to clinics and attorneys selected by WRAY and his associates. These clinics and attorneys then paid bribes to WRAY and his associates for these referrals, which they distributed to the co-conspirators as payoffs and kickbacks.

Specifically, in approximately 2013, while WRAY was working as a medical clinic manager, WRAY and a co-conspirator, ANTHONY ROSE, alias “Todd Chambers”, reached an agreement that for each patient ROSE sent to the clinic, WRAY would pay him approximately $2,000 to $3,000 in illegal referral fees.

Thereafter, around 2016, WRAY began recruiting and acquiring its own “primary sources,” who were people willing to sell the confidential information of car accident victims. From approximately 2016 through December 2017, WRAY bribed at least five NYPD 911 operators to provide him with the names and numbers of car accident victims. WRAY then transferred this information to an illegal call center operated by ROSE and funded in part by WRAY. ROSE’s call center called unsuspecting accident victims, lied to them, and then directed them to private clinics and attorneys that were part of ROSE and WRAY’s illegal referral network. The clinics and attorneys then paid ROSE and WRAY bribes in cash and by check. WRAY also recruited lawyers and clinics in a similar way to participate in this part of the scheme.

Among other things, WRAY hid his bribery of 911 operators by providing them with prepaid “burner” phones, using encrypted messaging apps to communicate with them, and assigning them code names. ROSE and WRAY also received additional kickbacks for taking accident victims to a private magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility. Additionally, in or about 2017, ROSE, WRAY, a paralegal (“Paralegal-1”), and a physician (“Physician-1”) agreed to open a medical clinic in the Bronx (“Clinic-1”). WRAY funded Clinic-1, directed accident victims to Clinic-1, and exercised substantial control over its medical operations, which is illegal under New York law, because WRAY is not a physician.

WRAY received millions of dollars in illegal profits from his participation in the various aspects of this scheme. In addition to his prison sentence, WRAY, 37 of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to seize $2.2 million and pay a $250,000 fine.

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The United States Attorney’s Office indicted JELANI WRAY and 26 other defendants in November 2019. All 27 defendants admitted guilt; 25 of the 27 defendants pleaded guilty, and the prosecutions of the remaining two defendants were stayed. WRAY is the sixteenth defendant convicted; Ten defendants have been sentenced to serve time in prison. The main aspects of each defendant’s sentence are reflected in the table below. To date, the defendants have also been ordered to pay approximately $5 million in forfeiture from this scheme.

Mr. Williams praised the work of the FBI, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Financial Services, the New York County District Attorney’s Office Westchester and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

This case is being handled by the Bureau’s Complex Fraud and CyberCrime Unit and the White Plains Division. Assistant US Attorneys Mathew Andrews and Louis A. Pellegrino are in charge of the prosecution.

Accused

Age

Hometown

Main aspects of prayer

JELANI WRAY,

also known as “Lani”,

a.k.a. “JR”

37

Brooklyn, New York

  • 7 years in prison
  • 3 years supervised release
  • $250,000 fine
  • Ordered forfeiture of $2,200,000

Nathaniel Coles,

a.k.a. “Nat”

69

Cortland Manor, New York

  • 5 years in prison
  • 3 years supervised release
  • $100,000 fine
  • Ordered forfeiture of $2,594,000

ANTHONY ROSE, son,

a.k.a. “Sean Wells”

3. 4

Cambria Heights, New York

  • 2 years in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $69,000

CHRISTINA GARCIA,

a.k.a. “Cindy”

37

Jersey City, New Jersey

  • 366 days in prison
  • 3 years supervised release
  • $3,000 fine
  • Ordered forfeiture of $30,000

BLUE LION,

a.k.a. “Boochies”

56

Brooklyn, New York

  • Time served in prison (approx. two years)
  • 3 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $8,310

CLARENCE FACEY,

a/k/a “Face”

36

Brooklyn, New York

  • 6 months in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $25,000

ANGELA MELECIO,

a.k.a. “Angie”,

also known as “P5”

43

Amityville, New York

  • Time served in prison
  • 3 years of supervised release, with 6 months of home confinement
  • 250 hours community service
  • Ordered forfeiture of $8,000

Stephanie Pascal,

a.k.a. “Steph”,

also known as “P2”

49

Brooklyn, New York

  • Time served in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $2,000

EDUARDO ABAYEV,

a.k.a. “Eddie”

54

Staten Island, New York

  • 366 days in prison
  • 3 years supervised release
  • $20,000 fine
  • Ordered forfeiture of $18,000

TONJA LEWIS,

also known as “J1”

55

Belleville, NJ

  • Time served in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • 250 hours community service
  • Ordered forfeiture of $8,310

BRIAN BERLISA,

a.k.a. “Lisa”

55

Edison, NJ

  • Time served in prison
  • 3 years supervised release
  • 250 hours community service
  • Ordered forfeiture of $20,000

ANGELA MYERS,

a.k.a. “Angie”

40

Brooklyn, New York

  • Time served in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • 250 hours community service
  • Ordered forfeiture of $10,000

SHAKEMA FOSTER

29

Brooklyn, New York

  • Time served in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • 250 hours community service
  • Ordered forfeiture of $3,000

KOURTNEI WILLIAMS

35

Brooklyn, New York

  • 6 months in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $20,000

MAKA SHABAZZ, a/k/a “Mecca”

Four. Five

Long Island City, New York

  • 6 months in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $36,000

YANIRIS DELEONa/k/a “Jen”

32

New York, NY

  • 6 months in prison
  • 2 years supervised release
  • Ordered forfeiture of $10,000

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