Operation Sledgehammer Leads to Insurance Fraud Guilty Pleas

August 21, 2013

Guilty! That is the plea by four of the 92 individuals charged with federal fraud in a massive staged auto accident fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney recently announced that Weston chiropractor Dr. Aaron Freedlander, Hollywood licensed massage therapist Abner Llenderrozo, Daviel Castro-Martinez of West Palm Beach; and Elias Munguia of Miami, all plead guilty to stealing millions of dollars from Florida’s automobile insurance companies and drivers.

We first covered the story in May, in a post titled “92 Accused in Staged Accident Fraud Ring, $20 million in Fraudulent Claims.” The initial arrests were made as a result of Operation Sledgehammer, a multi-agency crackdown on staged accidents and insurance fraud in the state of Florida.

The group actively recruited “victims,” staged auto accidents, and then billed insurance companies for unnecessary treatment at clinics owned by Munguia. In addition to the repayment of $2 million, the four men face as much as 20 years in jail on each count of mail fraud and money laundering.

Insurance Fraud Never Stops

Just as participants in one fraud scheme are brought to justice, others step forward to take their place.

In a separate incident, The Sun Sentinel recently reported that Sharah Simone Manning, 33, of Greenacres, was arrested for insurance fraud earlier this month after it was discovered that, beginning in 2012, she had been filing false claims for medical treatment.

Manning initially alleged that she was a passenger in a car accident on West Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach on Oct.8, 2012. In actuality, however, Manning was dropped off at the scene of the accident after the crash occurred but before the police arrived. She then insisted that police include her on the crash report.

Her insurance company paid $14,000 in claims to a chiropractic center in Delray Beach. The driver was also arrested for his role in the scheme.