June 9, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
MTA EMPLOYEE SENT TO JAIL
FOR STEALING OVER $100,000
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Dietra Sharp,
37, was sentenced on June 6 for stealing over $100,000 from the
Maryland Transit Administration for whom she worked as an insurance
claims adjuster. Judge Wanda Heard sentenced Sharp, who has since
resigned from the MTA, to five years incarceration, with all but
one year suspended, five years probation and restitution of $54,593.33
to the State and other victims.
had earlier pled guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy and theft
for her role in the massive insurance fraud scheme that she and
a co-defendant, Pauline Cole, engaged in while employed by the MTA.
Sharp, of the 2000 block of Edison Highway in Baltimore, conspired
with Cole, of the 4000 block of Nicholas Avenue in Baltimore, over
a four-year period between 1997 and 2001, to file bogus insurance
claims against the State and other insurance entities, resulting
in the issuance of over $109,000 in checks to which they were not
entitled. When their scheme was discovered in 2001, they both resigned
their positions at MTA, an internal audit was commenced and a criminal
investigation was initiated.
Sharp was an adjuster in the MTA's Transit Insurance Group, responsible
for the processing of personal injury and property damage claims
made by individuals against the MTA as a result of accidents involving
MTA buses and other vehicles. In 1997, Sharp and Cole concocted
a scheme whereby Sharp would "add" fictitious passengers
to the vehicles involved in such accidents, creating bogus claims
in the names of their relatives and friends, and then approve the
claims for payment. Once the fraudulent checks were issued, Sharp
gave them to Cole to cash. Cole ran the checks through her invalid
mother's bank account over which she had power of attorney. On other
occasions, Cole would cash some of these checks - which ranged in
amount from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars apiece
- at check cashing facilities around Baltimore. That investigation
was conducted jointly by the Criminal Investigations Division of
the Attorney General's Office and the Maryland State Police.
only did the defendants steal money from the MTA, but they also
defrauded the State Treasurer, the Maryland Automobile Insurance
Fund, and four private insurance companies to whom they had also
submitted fraudulent claims in the names of non-existent passengers.
The private insurance companies victimized by the scheme were GEICO,
Nationwide, Penn National, State Farm and Allstate.
an extensive and exhaustive audit, it was determined that the MTA
lost a total of $75,126.03 at the hands of the defendants, while
the State Treasurer paid out an additional $17,710.63 in bogus claims.
The losses of MAIF and the five private insurance companies totaled
$16,350.00. The total theft amount, comprising 92 fraudulent checks,
was $109,186.66. The defendants spent the money on lottery tickets
and personal expenses, such as hair and nail appointments, vehicles,
restaurants and cell phone bills.
co-defendant Cole was sentenced last week by Judge Paul Smith to
90 days incarceration, probation and restitution.