Man arrested after video disputes accident claims

April 15, 2011 4:41:23 AM PDT
A Bronx man is facing charges after police say he claimed to be injured in an accident that video showed he was clearly not involved in.

Gabriel Leon Hernandez, 33, was arrested by the NYPD's Fraudulent Accident Squad and charged with second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree grand larcenty and first-degree falsifying business records.

Hernandez claimed that he sustained injuries and vehicle damage as a result of a September 22, 2010 tractor trailer accident that occurred on the approach to the Queens-bound RFK Triborough Bridge. After recovering tens of thousands of dollars for medical and auto insurance reimbursements, Hernandez's story fell apart when detectives obtained and reviewed the above video capturing the collision.

The tape clearly showed Hernandez was not involved in the accident.

"We find out he had surgery to his right shoulder, unknown what type of surgery, but he did have surgery to his right shoulder," said Lt. Edwin Martinez with the NYPD Fraudulent Accident Squad.

The accident involved an 18-wheel tractor trailer transporting bottled wine that overturned, pinning another vehicle against the center barrier as they came through the off ramp from the Major Deegan Expressway.

Hernandez then stopped his vehicle in front of the overturned tractor and proceeded to assist the occupants of the vehicles involved in the accident. When officers from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Police responded to the scene, Hernandez reported that he was involved in the accident and was injured. The TBTA officers filled out an accident report with Hernandez's vehicle being involved in the accident, and he was removed to an area hospital by EMS.

The video, however, clearly shows that Hernandez was not involved in the accident and stopped his vehicle seconds after the accident occurred.

"It's like a Good Samaritan situaton that that goes bad," said Marilyin McFarland.

Since the accident, Hernandez has sought medical treatment at a clinic in the Bronx and has produced bills to his insurance company for shoulder surgery and other treatments. His insurance company has paid $21,184.96 in medical bills and $1,254.35 for fixing damages allegedly sustained to his vehicle.

"I think the video is self evident," Martinez said. "Once a person starts spending a high amounts of money, like in this case, it sort of triggers the insurance companies."

Prior to his arrest, Hernandez had also retained an attorney and initiated a lawsuit for bodily injury against the insurer of the tractor trailer.

Both the driver of the truck and the driver of vehicle pinned against center barrier were taken to a hospital for injuries and later released. The driver of the vehicle pinned against the barrier collected a total of $200 for his injuries.

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