NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


May 19, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

FORMER BALTIMORE COUNTY MAN GUILTY OF THEFT AND INSURANCE FRAUD

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that Timothy Andrew Scalla, Sr., formerly of 2116 Summit Avenue, Baltimore County, Maryland, has been convicted of theft and insurance fraud for making a series of fraudulent insurance claims against his homeowners policies. The conviction follows Scalla's guilty plea to charges that over a two-year period, he falsely claimed that he was the victim of three separate break-ins. Each time, Scalla submitted phony documentation, including bogus invoices and cancelled checks, in support of insurance claims for property allegedly stolen from him. Scalla admitted that he received a total of $18,486.68 for the fraudulent claims. Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Kerr Howe accepted the guilty plea and ordered a background investigation before imposing sentence. Scalla faces up to 15 years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine on the theft conviction, and up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine for each of the two insurance fraud charges. Sentencing has been set for September 18, 2000.

In a statement of facts the Court learned that in June 1994, after having his homeowners insurance cancelled due to an excessive claims history, Scalla applied for another policy with Allstate Insurance Company. To procure coverage, Scalla lied on his application by saying that he had not made an insurance claim during the past three years. A year later, Scalla made a claim with Allstate, seeking reimbursement for two sets of golf clubs that he said had been stolen out of a car. When Allstate asked for documentation showing what he had paid for the equipment, Scalla submitted photocopies of the fronts and backs of three checks, each payable to local sporting goods stores. Relying on this information, Allstate paid $4,058.90 to Scalla for the clubs and accessories.

Upon investigation, it was learned that the photocopied checks submitted by Scalla were bogus - the fronts and backs of the checks did not match. The front of each check, which indicated the amount of the check and the payee, was fraudulent as no such check had ever been issued by Scalla or submitted to his bank for payment. The back of each check, which indicated that the check had been paid by Scalla's bank, was actually the back of a completely different item.

Judge Howe heard that Scalla pulled off a similar scam in May 1997, submitting fake invoices to the Travelers Insurance Company for two more sets of golf clubs that he claimed had been stolen from his garage. Scalla sent the Travelers separate invoices for clubs that he said he purchased for himself and his wife from a Belair Road golf store. The Travelers paid Scalla $6,730.68 in reliance on these invoices. The invoices, however, were fakes printed by Scalla on a home computer. They looked nothing like those actually used by the store, which had no record of making such a large sale to Scalla.

Scalla struck the Travelers again in December 1997, this time for tools and hunting equipment that he said had been stolen form his garage. Using a combination of bogus checks and phony receipts, Scalla defrauded the Travelers into paying him another $7,697.10. When the Travelers became suspicious, it referred the matter to the Insurance Fraud Division of the Maryland Insurance Administration for investigation.

"Mr. Scalla went to great lengths to defraud the system by making false claim after false claim," Attorney General Curran said. "He attempted to abuse a system that is in place for honest victims not greedy con artists."

Employees of the Administration, the Maryland State Police, and the Office of the Attorney General staff the Fraud Division. The criminal charges followed the State investigation.

###