2001-04-07 / Front Page

Rockaway Auto Body Workers

Rockaway Auto Body Workers

One of three Queens sites where alleged insurance fraud took place.One of three Queens sites where alleged insurance fraud took place.

Accused of Insurance Fraud

By Aaron Zeidman

Two employees of a Rockaway auto body shop were arrested on Wednesday, April 4, for allegedly cheating insurance companies out of thousands of dollars.

Frederick Ott, 59, and James Grassia, 51, are accused of routinely causing additional damage to vehicles delivered to their shops for repairs after they were involved in collisions. Ott and Grassia are employees of Harbor Auto Body located at 112-16 Beach Channel Drive.

Two other repair shops: Classic Collision at 135-08 131 Street Ozone Park, and All Boro Collision Specialist at 216-08 Hempstead Avenue in Queens Village are also allegedly involved in insurance fraud.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and New York State Department of Insurance Superintendent Neil Levin said that a team of investigators sent six damaged cars to each of the body shops, two per location. The investigators allege that the defendants then caused additional damage to the cars, leading to additional repairs totaling to $19,000.

Brown gave one example of a car brought in by investigators to one of the shops needing only $1,188 worth of repair work. The defendants allegedly caused enough additional damage to the vehicle to be able to claim that it needed $7,055 worth of repairs.

The defendants are charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The auto shops face a fine of up to twice the amount of what they charged the insurance companies.

The owner and manager of Harbor Auto Body were not available for comment.

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