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Press Release

21 Charged with Insurance Fraud Felonies

November 2, 2017 | Topic: Criminal

Attorney General Shapiro: “Insurance fraud causes premiums to rise for folks who follow the rules. It’s wrong and we’re taking action to stop it.”

Harrisburg — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced criminal charges against 21 people in Western Pennsylvania following investigations by the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

The charges are part of a sweep conducted by the Insurance Fraud Section. In 2017 so far, the Office of Attorney General has charged 163 persons with insurance fraud, and Pennsylvania courts have ordered more than $774,500 in restitution be paid.

“Insurance fraud is a serious crime that impacts consumers and policyholders across our Commonwealth,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “We will aggressively prosecute anyone who breaks the law by providing false information to an insurance company. When people commit insurance fraud, it causes premiums to rise for the folks who follow the rules.  It’s wrong, and we’re taking action to stop it.”

Defendants arrested in the recent sweep are charged with insurance fraud, a third-degree felony, and related charges. The cases are all pending.

In one case, Bonnie Shaner and Gordon Wade claimed $19,600 of property was stolen from Shaner’s parked, unattended vehicle. Their insurance claim reported the theft of various items, included a Sony Bravia LED TV and a Select Comfort Bed. Investigators determined the property that Shaner and Wade reported stolen was never sold to them or stolen from them. Both defendants admitted to forging or doctoring receipts submitted to their insurance company.

Another case involved Bahram Panahiazar, a representative at Western & Southern Financial Group, who created 22 fraudulent insurance applications between 2014 and 2016 to collect commissions. Panahiazar resigned after being confronted.  He would have earned $17,000 in commissions for these fraudulent policies in just one year.

The following individuals have been charged with insurance fraud:

  • Stephanie Barron, 39, of Wilson Avenue, Butler
  • Shontae Bell, 29, of Ohio Avenue, White Oak
  • Kari Bertolina, 34, of Arbor Circle, Franklin
  • Alice Butler, 56, of Bosses Row, Crucible
  • Cynthia Demharter, 59, of Deauville Drive, Monroeville
  • Josh Edery, 33, of Short Street, Pittsburgh
  • Syntarah Emerick, 22, of Monroeville Boulevard, Monroeville
  • Tyler German, 25, of Nelson Road, Clearfield
  • Shawn Kenny, 50, of New Hampshire Avenue, Aliquippa
  • William Kuhn, 27, of Bevan Road, Pittsburgh
  • Craig Leech, 31, of Holland Street, Erie
  • Tarik Neal, 42, of Pleasantview Road, Smock
  • Marlin Ostrom, 24, of Chapel Drive, Ellwood City
  • Bahram Panahiazar, 62, of Cranberry Drive, Monroeville
  • Beth Robbins, 59, of North Oak Lane, State College
  • Bonnie Shaner, 56, of Roosevelt Way, Crabtree
  • Kenneth Sterling, 32, of Union Street, Titusville
  • Jessica Sweeney, 34, of West Main Street, Evans City
  • Malinda Taylor, 53, of McCloskey Lane, Mill Hall
  • Gordon Wade, 56, of Roosevelt Way, Crabtree
  • George Yurko, 53, of Payne Street, North Versaillies

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