Monday, August 20, 2007

Scam goes to pieces

Some people will go to any length to make a few extra bucks. But is $200,000 worth a lifetime of stomach problems and jail time? Apparently, one couple was willing to take that risk.

In a scam that hit Gaithersburg and Bethesda as it traveled up and down the East Coast from D.C. to Boston, Ronald Evano (and, allegedly, his wife Mary) collected thousands of dollars in insurance payments after intentionally eating glass at restaurants.

Here's how the plan broke down: the husband or wife would put glass shards in a dish and then, claiming stomach pain, would be rushed to the hospital to be treated for glass ingestion. The hospitals got stuck with the bill while the Evanos took cash in settlements with the restaurants.

Over the course of eight years, the Evanos performed the scheme at least 12 times and collected more than $200,000 in fraudulent insurance claims, according to a federal indictment. Court documents say the couple used at least 15 aliases between them and left more than $100,000 in medical bills unpaid.

Mr. Evano
pleaded guilty Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Boston to conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, Social Security fraud and making false statements on health care matters. Mrs. Evano is still eluding the feds.

The Evanos scammed two Maryland establishments out of about $40,000 from claims in 1999 and 2000, according to the indictment. In the first instance Mr. Evano claimed he ingested glass at a Bethesda hotel’s buffet. He was treated at nearby Suburban Hospital where he vomited blood and eventually passed two large pieces of glass, the indictment said. The hotel settled for $19,213 and Suburban was left with a $3,000 unpaid bill.

A year later, Mrs. Evano showed up at Suburban claiming she had consumed glass at a Gaithersburg hotel restaurant. The hospital was left with $4,000 in unpaid bills and the Evanos made off with a $20,000 settlement, according to the indictment.

Mr. Evano is being held at Norfolk County (Mass.) Jail. He faces up to 100 years in prison and is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 4.

-LIZ FARMER, Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer

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