Over 450 professionals from 20 states attended the two-day event at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Awards were presented by IFPA executive director Tom Donahue and IASIU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter President Diane Svec, of Erie Insurance.

This year’s winners included: Detective Donald Murtha, Insurance Fraud Unit, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office; Detective David Jay, Insurance Fraud Unit, York County District Attorney’s Office; Ben Beddis, Supervisor-Corporate and Financial Investigator, Independence Blue Cross; James Devlin, Senior Investigator, Independence Blue Cross;  Senior Deputy Robert LaBar, Insurance Fraud Section, PA Office of Attorney General; Deputy Attorney General Matthew Connolly, Supervisory Special Agent Douglas W. Hilyard, Insurance Fraud Section, PA Office of Attorney General; Investigative Analysts Stephani Wable and Cassandra J. Gillies of the Insurance Fraud Section, PA Office Attorney General; Chief Deputy Attorney General Laura Ditka, Criminal Prosecution Section; and Senior Deputy Attorney General Mark A. Bellavia.

“Insurance fraud is one of America’s largest crimes,” said Donahue, “and it’s a privilege to recognize those who are on the front lines of investigating and fighting it.”

Murtha was cited for conducting an investigation that led to the arrests of co-conspirators Edward R. Kirby and his son Edward A. Kirby following the death of their relative. The victim’s son reported suspicion that his father might have been murdered by the defendants in order to collect on a life insurance policy. Murtha’s investigation revealed that the defendants had fraudulently obtained 10 guaranteed whole life insurance policies on the victim, killed him through the provision of methadone, and collected more than $100,000 in proceeds on five policies.

The team of LaBar, Connolly, Hilyard, Wable and Gillies played a major role in the investigation and conviction of osteopathic physician Dr. Stephanie Tarapchak, who had prescribed and dispensed thousands of Schedule II controlled substances to her patients - one of whom died, while another overdosed at school. The doctor also fraudulently billed insurance companies for visits and procedures that were never performed.

LaBar and Hilyard were also recognized for their contributions towards the investigation and arrests of numerous individuals in a multistate conspiracy to fraudulently obtain cheaper insurance for commercial bus carriers.

Beddis, Devlin and Bannar were recognized for helping investigate and prosecute Lawrence Wean, MD, who prescribed over 150,000 Class II and III pills to Independence Blue Cross members without evaluations or examinations. As part of the investigation, Detective Bannar went undercover as a patient and was prescribed Xanax, Oxycodone and Vicodin without ever being examined, while his insurance carrier was charged for services never conducted by the doctor.

Ditka, Bellavia and Hilyard were cited for investigation and prosecution of Dr. Richard Lenhart, a psychologist who used the guise of treatment to sexually assault two female patients under his care. Lenhart also fraudulently billed Highmark Insurance Company for these “services” by using claim codes associated with more traditional psychological services and treatments, submitting more than 700 claims for payments.

Greater Pittsburgh Chapter IASIU President Diane Svec and Past President Tom Cesario recognized James Wabby with a lifetime achievement award. A member of the Greater Pittsburgh IASIU community, Wabby served more than 16 years in the Office of Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section, and 33 years with the Allegheny County Police Department. During his tenure with the AG’s office, he had more than 160 successful prosecutions.

The IFPA was created in 1994 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly through Act 166, Pennsylvania’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, to arm law enforcement with the resources necessary to fight insurance fraud in the Commonwealth. IASIU, founded in 1984, is an organization dedicated to advancing the efforts of law enforcement and insurance industry fraud investigation professionals in combating insurance fraud. For more information visit www.helpstopfraud.org, and www.iasiu.org.

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Report Insurance Fraud!

This website provides a listing of law enforcement agencies that fight fraud. To report anonymously, consumers can call the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s tip line at 1-800-TEL-NICB or the IFPA’s tip line at 1-888-565-IFPA.