PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly a dozen people, including a uniformed Philadelphia police officer, were charged on Tuesday in an alleged insurance fraud scheme. Investigators believe it could have taken in millions of dollars.
District Attorney Seth Williams alleged 44-year old Gary Cottrell, on the force for 15-years, “tarnished the badge,” by allegedly serving as a “wreck chaser.”
“These frauds raise insurance costs to all honest Philadelphians. many people believe these are victimless crimes. they’re not.”
Investigators believe while on duty – in uniform – and off duty, he directed accident victims to University Collision Centers, with shops in Grays Ferry and Manayunk. Inside them, vehicles were damaged further, which inflated the value of insurance claims. Cottrell allegedly received a percentage of the ultimate insurance settlements.
Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Cottrell was stationed in the 14th district in the Germantown/Chestnut Hill area:
“How greed can motivate people and do despicable acts like this, particularly when you talk about a law enforcement officer. I’m particularly saddened for all the men and women who wear their uniforms proudly.”
Also charged were lawyer Michael Wolf, collision shop owner Edward Hildebrandt, workers there and vehicle damage appraisers. The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests were expected.
Reported by KYW’s Steve Tawa