by Jonathan Weaver
A few local individuals that were charged by the state Attorney General’s office in November will head to court to battle their charges.
In November, then-Attorney General Bruce R. Beemer announced the filing of criminal charges against 50 individuals following investigations by the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.
The charges were part of a November sweep conducted by the Insurance Fraud Section, which is the largest law enforcement entity in Pennsylvania with specific authority to investigate and prosecute cases of insurance fraud.
The total potential fraud involved in these cases is more than $1.1 million.
“Insurance fraud results in billions of dollars of losses each year,” then-Attorney General Beemer said. “This type of fraud also leads to higher insurance rates for everyone, which is why it is important for our office to be diligent in investigating and prosecuting these crimes.”
Virginia Baustert, 41, of the 100 block of Hilltop Drive, Apollo, is charged with one count each of insurance fraud, theft by deception and violation of the controlled substance, drug, device and cosmetic act.
Investigators allege that Baustert gave false, incomplete and misleading information to medical providers in several western Pennsylvania counties, causing them to submit claims to Highmark Insurance for medical services that Baustert did not need.
She is accused of presenting prescriptions to various pharmacies for Oxycodone and OxyContin, knowing that the prescriptions were not properly issued. The amount of the theft of medical services that were not necessary is approximately $160,000, according to investigators.
Nancy Paola Sanchez Vasquez, 31, and Craig Dowling, 34, both of the 1000 block of Buchannon Road, Pittsburgh, are both charged with two counts each of insurance fraud and one count of criminal attempt to commit theft by deception.
Sanchez in November 2015 obtained an automobile policy for her vehicle. The following day, she allegedly filed an online insurance claim that indicated she was operating her own vehicle when she was involved in an accident.
During the claims process, Dowling provided a statement corroborating Sanchez’s claim. However, an investigation revealed that the accident actually involved Dowling’s work vehicle, which was uninsured.
All three accused waived their preliminary hearings before Magisterial District Judge Gary DeComo and are scheduled for formal arraignment in February.