A new article in the Insurance Journal, Gang members accused of violently taking over New York’s firefighting industry, caught my attention. In the geeky insurance claims and restoration industry, the following are far beyond the norm:
Police officers from the FBI, Homeland Security and New York have indicted nine defendants, including gang members, for a violent conspiracy with extortion and extortion in an attempt to take over an entire industry designed to help victims after a fire.
The defendants, who officials said included members of the violent Bloods street gang, took control of First Response Cleaning Corp., a Brooklyn-based emergency response company (EMS) that provides decontamination services to properties damaged by fire. Officials claim that the defendants used First Response as a vehicle to pressure other participants in the firefighting industry and used force to assert control over the industry and file false insurance claims.
Without puns, the press release from the U.S. Attorney̵7;s Office had more information:
“We smoke out corruption and violence in the firefighting industry with today’s accusations. As alleged, the defendants used threats and violence to take over a company and then an industry. Thanks to the work of our law enforcement partners, today’s arrests put an end to the defendants’ violent plan. . ‘
“We claim that gang members used mob-like tactics, blackmail and violence in their attempts to take over an entire industry designed to help victims of a fire. They used violence to force other companies and suppliers to make their bids. Thanks the incredible work of the FBI and our law enforcement partners, this crew can no longer threaten to kill people’s families, take revenge on potential witnesses and profit from someone else’s loss … ‘
“Member of the Bloods is alleged to have infiltrated First Response Cleaning Corporation and used force to control dominance and compliance over its competitors in the insurance industry. This criminal organization exploited people in times of personal and professional concern to enrich themselves at the expense of others. HSI will to continue working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle complex criminal organizations that seek to exploit legitimate companies to advance their violent agendas. ‘
The indictment stated the following:
[T]He Bloods street gang, worked together to take control of First Response. JATIEK SMITH was the leader of the crew. After taking control of First Response, SMITH and the others used violence and threats of violence against other EMS companies and public regulators to exercise control over the entire firefighting industry. Defendant OCTAVIO PERALTA was a public adjuster who participated in the company’s attempt to defraud and who helped the conspirators to consolidate their control over the industry. The company’s threats included threats to kill or shoot their victims and members of the victims’ families. Supporting these threats of violence, they introduced a system of rules for other EMS companies and public adjusters, including a strict rotation system where the defendants dictated which companies suffered which losses. The company also extorted money from EMS companies and public adjusters and demanded that these other companies pay if they wanted to continue working without being attacked. On several occasions, the company used force against other EMS companies and public adjusters to ensure that they complied with the rules, including physical abuse of victims. They sometimes created video recordings of this violence and distributed the recordings within the industry to threaten other victims. The company also assisted in filing false insurance claims for damaged property and threatened with violence or retaliation against potential witnesses believed to be collaborating with the federal investigation of the company’s crimes.
This is bizarre and in the category “truth is foreign to fiction” for what can happen in the real estate insurance industry.
We will monitor this matter and keep you updated on developments when we find them. As a reminder, everyone has the right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Accusations are just that, accusations until proven.
Even gang members imagine a future that does not include gangs.
– Greg Boyle