A Baldwin man was sentenced to 18 months to three years in prison after having a Range Rover torched so that the car’s owner could file a bogus insurance claim in 2012.
Nassau District Judge Martin Massell sentenced Henry Flores after Flores pleaded guilty to fourth-degree insurance fraud, which is an E felony, in March 2014.
According to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, on Sept. 12, 2012, members of the New York City Fire Department were called to a scene in Queens of a burning 2009 Range Rover. An investigation by FDNY fire marshals determined that the fire had been intentionally set, and identified the owner as a resident of Queens.
Five days later, the owner of the Range Rover, filed a fraudulent police report with the Nassau County Police Department, as well as a fraudulent insurance claim with Progressive Insurance that stated his vehicle had been stolen from in front of a friend’s house in North Bellmore on the evening of Sept. 16, 2012. As part of the insurance claim, the owner sought to be paid at least $38,000 — the total loss value of the vehicle.
A joint investigation by the FDNY and the insurance company revealed that sometime before Sept. 12, 2012, the owner had given the vehicle to Flores and paid him $2,000 to damage and dispose of the vehicle so that the owner could file a bogus insurance claim. As part of that investigation, the FDNY obtained an audio recording of Flores admitting that he had given the vehicle to a third person for the purpose of having it torched in Queens.
Flores also coached the owner in how to file and pursue the insurance claim to ensure that the owner would receive money for the vehicle. Flores was arrested on Oct. 26, 2012 by the FDNY Fire Marshals who then referred the case to Rice’s office. Shortly thereafter, the owner died of natural causes in a Brooklyn hospital. The third person involved in the scheme was not identified.
“This defendant not only participated in a scam to collect thousands of dollars by torching a vehicle to collect insurance money — he intentionally put the firefighters who came to the scene in harm’s way for his own financial gain,” Rice said.