MIAMI — Twelve current and former school bus drivers and aides here were arrested for allegedly filing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of fraudulent accident insurance claims, state officials said.
Jimmy Patronis, the chief financial officer for the Florida Department of Financial Services, announced on Friday the arrest of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools employees for allegedly submitting the false claims, which total $426,933, according to a news release from the department.
Under the direction of alleged “ringleader” Shanequa Latoya Veal, a former Miami-Dade County Public Schools employee, the drivers and aides used the personal information of approximately 11 children to file the fake claims for reimbursement, the news release stated.
Fraud detectives found that between 2015 and 2018 the employees allegedly submitted 68 fraudulent accident injury insurance claims to an insurance company using the same injury accident information, according to the department. They obtained legitimate medical records supplied by fellow participants and shared the personal information of children who were previously treated at various medical facilities. This enabled them to file insurance claims as if they were the parents of the children.
Miami Herald reports that, according to her arrest form, Veal had submitted two claims in June 2015. One was for injuries to a child who was not her own, from a March 2015 car accident. The other claim that she allegedly submitted stated that another son and his brother were hit by a car and airlifted to the hospital.
Six months later, an investigator discovered similarities between the two claims, according to the newspaper. Investigators told Miami Herald that they found more than 30 transfers into Veal’s bank account from other bank members, and that she submitted 52 claims that were filed and paid, totaling $357,063, and received $120,000 in cash and wire transfers from other AFLAC insurance members.
“Using the identities of innocent children to file fake insurance claims to make a quick buck is shameful,” Patronis said. “It is especially alarming when these individuals were responsible for the safety and security of children in their roles with the Miami-Dade school district. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and drives up rates for every Florida household. I applaud my fraud detectives for working diligently to bring these scam artists to justice.”
"There can never be an excuse for insurance fraud,” said Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade state attorney. “When public employees are a part of the problem and when public medical benefits are used to make the scheme work, these are shameful events. They are also crimes."
The arrested individuals were charged with organized scheme to defraud, grand theft, and false and fraudulent insurance claims. Those arrested include Shanequa Latoya Veal, Davina Renee Stephens, Charlie Griffin III, Sylvia Albertha Nickle, Keyonna Lacrice McCown-Persaud, Ruby Ray Carter, Evette Nicole Woodard, Shevet Walker Mabry, Alma Denise Jackson, Regina Cettali Johnson, Gervanna Vikers, and Shenna Denise Lewis, according to the news release from the Florida Department of Financial Services.