Insurance Fraud Defendents Ordered to Reimburse the Coast Guard

NEW HAVEN, CONN. – Two people plead guilty to 2nd degree felony insurance fraud, July 2, 2007, after an extensive multi-agency investigation that began October 13, 2000 and resulted in several Coast Guard rescue crews searching many hours for no one.

Dale Donofrio, 53, and Robin Cummings, 59, were convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Larceny after their 35-foot pleasure craft, Rio Rita III, was found capsized in Long Island Sound and intentionally damaged.

A Good Samaritan radioed a distress call reporting a capsized vessel to Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound near New Haven Oct. 13, 2000. Three 41-foot rescue boat crews, a 21-foot rescue boat crew, a Coast Guard helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Falcon jet were in the area conducting a training exercise and all responded to the call. Approximately 10 hours were spent searching for possible missing persons from the vessel.

The vessel, valued at $ 40,000, was found overturned with all of the hatches open and motor lines cut. After the search and rescue mission it became apparent that the pleasure craft was intentionally damaged.

The U.S. Coast Guard Investigation Service, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and Guilford Police Department began a comprehensive investigation that led to the arrest of Donofrio and Cummings October 15, 2005.

The defendants will be sentenced October 12, 2007 and were ordered by Connecticut Judge Richard Damini to reimburse the Coast Guard $15,000 each for the search and rescue mission. A failure to pay these fines will result in an 18 month jail sentence.

“This is an excellent example of how our inter-agency relationships can help catch fraudulent claims and prevent future ones,” said Capt. Daniel Ronan, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “In preventing these incidents [marine insurance fraud] our men and women are able to focus our search and rescue assets on valid and necessary life-saving missions.”

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