Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Honored With 2014 "Prosecutor of the Year" Award

Tackled huge disability case and sought no-fault reform

WASHINGTON, DC (03/26/2014)(readMedia)-- Praised for his willingness to prosecute all types of insurance fraud, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was honored as 2014 Prosecutor of the Year by the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NYAAIF) here today. Vance took on a complex and massive disability fraud case against more than 100 New York police and fire fighters.

"In addition to this complex and wide-ranging disability case, the Manhattan DA's office has compiled an impressive list of other successful insurance-fraud cases," NYAAIF Chair Jim Berrigan said in presenting the award during the group's annual meeting.

Successful prosecutions of no-fault clinics, doctors, dentists, contractors, personal-injury attorneys and people who lie to receive Medicaid benefits were among Vance's achievements, Berrigan said.

Vance also publicly supported legislation last year creating a law to criminalize the practice of coordinating staged auto crashes to bilk New York's no-fault system.

Police and firefighters allegedly fabricated psychiatric conditions, many supposedly stemming from 9/11. They sought to fraudulently obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in federal disability payments, Vance said in a keynote address to the NYAAIF members.

"These defendants are accused of gaming the system by lying about their lifestyle, including their ability to work, drive, handle money, shop and socialize, in order to obtain benefits to which they were not entitled," Vance said.

Vance also briefed NYAAIF members on a workers compensation premium-fraud report released yesterday by a grand jury he empaneled.

Fraud by employers in the construction industry alone totaled nearly $500 million each year in New York, Vance said. New steps are needed to prevent and detect workers comp fraud. Increasing penalties for large-scale scams, requiring insurers to conduct more audits of business they insure, and issuing ID cards to workers to use when seeking medical treatment were among the report's recommendations.

NYAAIF also previewed its new public-awareness campaign to alert New Yorkers about the increasing number of scams involving health insurance. The campaign will air across the state on television, radio and select billboard locations. The effort will debut in May.

Six board members also were tapped for additional three-year terms during the annual meeting: Kevin O'Connor (Interboro Insurance), John McHale (Erie Insurance), David Covino (Unum), Thomas Mansfield (New York Automobile Insurance Plan), Peter May (Fiduciary Insurance Company of America) and John Sargent (MetLife).

The NYAAIF board also re-elected these officers for 2014-15: Chair is Jim Berrigan (Crum & Forster) ... Vice-Chair: Jim Potts (New York Central) ... Treasurer: Kevin O'Connor (Interboro Insurance) ... and Secretary: John McHale (Erie Insurance).

The New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud is a statewide coalition of more than 100 insurance companies. Its mission is to raise public awareness about insurance fraud and its high costs in New York.

More information: