Dozens charged in alleged Philadelphia slip and fall insurance fraud scheme

CENTER CITY - April 23, 2014

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced Wednesday afternoon the arrests of 46 people for faking slips and falls.

Andrew Gaber, a Center City lawyer, took his own life last week after the district attorney told him he was being charged as the kingpin in an elaborate 7-year insurance scam.

His more than 40 co-defendants were alleged runners for his operation.

The grand jury report says, at his direction, the group staged slip and fall accidents that defrauded more than 20 different insurance companies out of nearly $400,000 over 7 years.

"Often those people who were originally claimants would kind of move up in the pyramid and become runners to try to find other false claimants," Williams said.

22 runners have entered guilty pleas so far.

The DA displayed pictures of 23 others, allegedly runners, who remain at large.

Williams says the runners were paid from $100 to $500 each time they brought in or referred a claim.

Frequently, the report says, they recruited victims from homeless shelters.

Gaber, the grand jury says, taught them that claimants should always go to the hospital or call an ambulance following a staged fall on a sidewalk that had a very visible crack.

The reports says Gaber ran the operation from his hi-rise Center City law office where he was the lone practitioner.

"This was a conspiracy. This was a corrupt organization," Assistant District Attorney Linda Montag said.

"It is inappropriate for an attorney to hire runners, to pay anyone in cash to get a victim. Of course, it's illegal to falsify or file fraudulent claims when they know there was not an injury," Williams said.

Andrew Gaber's lawyer tells Action News they were prepared to enter a plea of not guilty had he been alive today.

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