WARREN, N.J. — A local school bus driver has been arrested for alleged insurance fraud and forgery-related offenses, authorities announced on Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, 53-year-old Luanne Stewart-Mastroianni forged her doctor's signature and continued to receive disability benefits after being cleared to return to work.
Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano said that a referral from the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor indicated that Stewart-Mastroianni filed a claim for total disability that began in October 2010.
In support of her claim, Stewart-Mastroianni faxed documents to Central States Health and Life Company of Omaha (CSO) in December 2010.
Stewart-Mastroianni was employed by Green Brook Township Public Schools and Village Supermarkets. She reportedly informed CSO that she was unable to work for either of these employers because of her disability.
CSO approved total disability benefits from October 2010 through October 2011. CSO subsequently contacted the Green Brook Board of Education and was advised that they received a physician’s note dated Nov. 18, 2011, that released Stewart-Mastroianni to return to work.
She reportedly returned to work for the school district on Nov. 22, 2011. Prosecutors said that a check with Village Supermarkets by CSO revealed that Stewart-Mastroianni had returned to work earlier that year — on March 6, 2011.
CSO determined that Stewart-Mastroianni was not entitled to benefits paid on her behalf totaling $5,388.55, and the company contacted the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.
Soriano said that an investigation found that Stewart-Mastroianni was released to return to work without restrictions on March 31, 2011. Insurance documentation after that date showed the attending physician’s signature; however, it was allegedly forged by Stewart-Mastroianni to continue her disability.
Stewart-Mastroianni was charged with insurance fraud, second degree; forgery, fourth degree; and uttering a forged document, fourth degree. She was arrested on Monday without incident. Bail was set at $35,000 with a 10% option.