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Lawrence man pleads guilty in fatal staged crash

December 24, 2010

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LAWRENCE, Mass.—A former Lawrence man who participated in a staged car crash that took the life of a 65-year-old grandmother has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Prosecutors say Hairo Gomez was behind the wheel of one of the vehicles that intentionally crashed in September 2003 in an attempt to defraud insurers.

Altagracia Arias, a willing participant in the scheme, died.

The 33-year-old Gomez's sentence will be served concurrently with a five-year drug sentence he is serving in New Jersey. Upon release, he faces deportation to the Dominican Republic.

Gomez apologized in court on Thursday for "the worst decision" of his life.

The crash sparked an investigation that uncovered widespread auto insurance fraud in the city.