An insurance claims manager with the N.J. Turnpike Authority admitted to scheming his employer and numerous insurance companies out of at least $1.5 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Wednesday.
Gerardo A. Blasi, 55, of Clifton, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to using the postal service as part of a scheme to defraud the authority and insurance companies and to obtain money and property by “false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises,” according to a statement by Fishman’s office.
While employed by the N.J. Turnpike Authority, Blasi dealt with the insurance companies of drivers who had caused damage to turnpike property.
Blasi conspired with a pair of New Jersey-based insurance claims adjustment companies to inflate the cost of those repairs and report them to the motorists’ insurance companies. After the insurers cut a check, Blasi, along with representatives from those companies, would share the difference between the actual cost and the reported cost, according to a brief from Fishman.
Despite a NJTA policy of not attempting to recover on damages caused by motorists who died from accidents on the Turnpike, Blasi continued to process those claims, Fishman said, and because the NJTA was unaware that Blasi had processed the claims, he was able to share the entire payment sent by the insurance company between himself and one of his conspirators.
The scheme went on from about October 2011 until June 2013, Fishman added.
Blasi faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2014.
While Blasi is the only person currently charged in the scheme, officials with the Department of Justice said their investigation is ongoing.