A Newton man pleaded guilty this week to insurance fraud and larceny for illegally filing fake insurance claims through his Somerville auto shop, prosecutors said today.
Michael Block, 40, of Newton, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of insurance fraud, larceny, forgery, and uttering false statements, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a press release.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge Gary Inge sentenced Block to two and a half years in the house of correction, with five years probation from and after his jail sentence, with the condition that he pays about $14,000 in restitution to five automobile insurance companies.
"The defendant engaged in illegal activities to defraud customers and insurance companies all for his own financial gain," Leone said. "I applaud the collaborative work of multiple agencies involved in this investigation to end this fraudulent activity."
Block operated Motor Sports, Inc. in Somerville. In the fall of 2010, Block fraudulently utilized the registration number of another auto body shop to file false insurance claims and receive money from various insurance companies, the DA's office said.
The defendant told customers who were seeking repairs to provide insurance companies with a false version of how the damage occurred, according to prosecutors. He would would then increase the damage to vehicles to gain additional money from insurance companies.
During their investigation, authorities observed Block moving customer cars to different parking lots, the DA's office said, and video surveillance showed the defendant enhancing the damage on vehicles.
A further investigation revealed that the defendant told a customer to tell the insurance company that damage to her vehicle was caused by a hit-and-run driver, the DA's office said. A forensic review showed that further damage occurred while the car was in Block's possession and that parts paid by the insurance company to be replaced were not actually replaced.
The case was investigated by Governor's Auto Theft Strike Force, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and state police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney's office.