Former officer sentenced to 30 months in insurance-fraud scheme

Posted: April 22, 2011

A former Philadelphia Highway Patrol officer was sentenced to 30 months in prison Thursday for his role in a long-running insurance-fraud scheme involving fake automobile accidents.

Drexel Reid Jr., 39, pleaded guilty in 2009 and assisted prosecutors in the case, in which about 60 people have pleaded guilty or been convicted. He admitted to 11 counts of mail fraud and single counts of wire fraud and extortion.

Between August 2003 and May 2007, Reid's codefendant, tow-truck driver Jerry Blassengale Jr., solicited people for staged or fictitious accidents, and Reid would create fake police reports for insurance claims. There were 11 fake claims involving Reid.

U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson also ordered Reid to pay $211,709.22 in restitution.

A total of 83 people have been charged in the scheme.

The probe started four years ago, when the FBI received a tip about alleged health care fraud. About the same time, city police received a tip about fake auto-body-repair claims. The scams involved the same people, authorities said.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the insurance fraud unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Wzorek.

Participants allegedly worked within an informal network, with tow-truck drivers knowing which body shops to use, and fake accident victims learning through fellow participants which doctors and lawyers would be open to the scheme, law enforcement officials said.

Blassengale was sentenced in 2009 to seven years in prison.


Contact staff writer Nathan Gorenstein at 215-854-2797 or ngorenstein@phillynews.com.

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