Elmwood Park woman pleads guilty to insurance fraud
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An Elmwood Park woman pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and fraud by insolvency after she attempted to get rid of debt, authorities said.
Katreecea Cline, 49, admitted to filing false insurance claims for alleged losses after Superstorm Sandy in addition to filing a false bankruptcy claim in an effort to wipe out $175,000 worth of debt, said State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in a news release.
Cline said she submitted fake and altered receipts to submit to her insurance company to claim items in her apartment, her son’s dorm room in Harrison and at her brother’s home in Keansburg suffered damage from Sandy, Grewal said. Cline ultimately collected $53,800 through her false claims. She filed the falsified claims to the United States Automobile Association between October 2012 and November 2013.
“Protecting the integrity of the insurance system is especially important in the aftermath of a calamity like Superstorm Sandy, when demands on the system skyrocket,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu.
In May 2013, Cline filed a claim, alleging that her motor home had been broken into and that $20,000 worth of construction equipment and tools stored in it had been stolen, said Grewal. Her insurance company paid her $3,000 for the claim.
In November 2012, Cline and her husband, Stevie Mitchell, filed for bankruptcy, stating they were in more than $200,000 of debt to a number of creditors and had less than $40,000 in assets, Grewal said. In their bankruptcy application, Cline and Mitchell did not disclose they had property interest in their Superstorm Sandy claims and that they had a bank account with Metabank. In February 2013, a federal bankruptcy judge discharged $175,000 worth of debt after accepting the bankruptcy petition.
The state recommended Cline be sentenced to four years in prison and charges against Mitchell for the false bankruptcy application will be dismissed at Cline’s sentencing on June 29.