Eight charged with fraud for allegedly faking SEPTA accident

Posted: October 12, 2012

BUS CAMERAS have once again put the brakes on a crime that, if made into a movie, could be called "Greed, Lies and Videotape."

Eight Philadelphians allegedly had roles in the latest SEPTA production, which has landed them in jail facing insurance fraud and related charges.

The District Attorney's Office on Thursday announced the arrests, which stem from an investigation that concluded that the defendants had made fraudulent personal-injury claims against SEPTA for supposed injuries incurred during a minor bus accident on Dec. 23, 2009.

The defendants' claimed to have suffered back, neck and related injuries when the right mirror of a passing armored car made contact with the bus' left mirror at 15th and Walnut streets.

The problem with that story is, the bus was equipped with video surveillance that records inside and outside the bus.

"This video confirmed that six of the defendants were not on the bus at the time of the accident and that the two that were actually on the bus were not injured in the manner that they claimed," the District Attorney's Office said.

Kitt Smith, 48; Avis Jackson, 56; Malik Spivey, 21; Eric Lovett, 46, and Stephanie Williams, 36, have been charged with conspiracy, attempted theft by deception and insurance fraud.

Lorraine Huff, 45; Faith Rowley, 46, and Arthur Whaley, 55, face the same charges and also perjury and unsworn falsification.

All the defendants, even those who weren't on the bus, went to the Center City Medical Center complaining of injuries and rung up combined medical bills of about $8,000, the D.A.'s office said. They were arrested last month.

Only Huff and Spivey were on the bus at the time of the accident. Lovett, who was recorded standing outside the bus, is accused of rounding up the five other defendants from the street and from his neighborhood to make the false claims.

Lovett has been convicted seven times for crimes that include burglary, robbery and simple assault, according to court records. He is awaiting trial on burglary, theft and related charges for a May incident, the records indicate.

Last year, SEPTA cameras led to the arrests of seven thugs involved in shooting up a bus filled with passengers in North Philadelphia. Six have pleaded guilty and one is awaiting trial.

Contact Mensah M. Dean at deanm@phillynews.com or 215-568-8278. Follow him on Twitter @MensahDean.

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