Jewel of a Scheme
Unholy Insurance Con
A pastor from Baltimore, Md. had
a developmentally disabled, blind
man killed for $1.4 million in life in-
Kevin Pushia was tens of thou-
sands of dollars in debt and faced
foreclosure on several properties.
He befriended Lemuel Wallace
and gained his trust. Then posing as
Wallace’s brother, Pushia fraudulently took out a half-dozen life policies
in Wallace’s name. Pushia then stole
$50,000 from his own church's bank account to pay the hitman.
Wallace was found shot several times in the head and back after
the hitman lured him into a public bathroom at a city park.
Investigators found Pushia’s day planner with the note “LW
project complete.” He faces life in prison when sentenced. KEVIN PUSHIA
William Craig Miller massacred a
family to prevent witnesses from tes-
tifying against him for burning down
his house for insurance money.
He hired Steven Duffy, an employee
of Miller’s home-restoration firm, to
help barbecue the tony Scottsdale,
Ariz. home. But afterward, Duffy’s
wife Tammy Lovell convinced him to
spill the plot to the police.
Miller grew desperate. Duffy and
Lovell were witnesses; they had to
go. He entered their house and shot them. Lovell was in a fetal
position when Miller pumped three bullets into the back of her
SMOKE AND MIRRORS:
THE TORT OF BAD FAITH
By Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE
In 2008, I wrote an article called,
“Time to Put a Stake through the
Heart of the Tort of Bad Faith,” which
explained how the tort of bad faith
can be used by an insurance fraud
perpetrator to squeeze money from
an insurer. It would seem that it has
failed to convince any judge or legislator. For that reason, the tort of
bad faith, designed to help the innocent, now results in punishing the
honest insurers while honoring the insurers who acted in bad faith
with profit. This has not only allowed many fraudsters to succeed but
it has also caused contract terms and conditions to be ignored while
simultaneously making rich members of the plaintiffs’ bar.
So I propose that every P&C adjuster and fraud investigator modify
their investigative techniques and claims handling approaches to
avoid the accusation that denial of a fraudulent claim constitutes
an act of bad faith. It is therefore imperative that claims and SIU
personnel do the following:
E Religiously follow state-specific fair claims settlement practices
E Thoroughly investigate every claim with the intent to find
coverage. When a preponderance of the available evidence
establishes that fraud is being attempted, deny the claim and file
a report to the state’s insurance fraud investigators.
E If, as they are wont, the fraud perpetrator files suit for bad faith,
then counsel should be instructed to defend the suit vigorously.
Acting counsel should also advise the plaintiff that the insurer
will not consider a settlement offer other than an offer to dismiss,
and take the case through trial and all appeals. If appropriate, the
insurer should also file a cross-claim against the insured for the
damages it has incurred in investigating the fraudulent claim.
Three kids inside saw the murders, so they were deemed expendable. Miller shot 10-year-old Jacob Lovell in his forehead
at point-blank range. Shane Duffy, 18, and Cassandra Lovell, 15,
also died in the charnel house. Miller received 14 years for the
arson, and faces a potential death sentence for the murders.
A Los Angeles, Calif. school police officer shot himself to scam
workers’ comp money. Jeff Stenroos
radioed that a pony-tailed burglary
suspect in a black leather jacket
pumped a bullet into his bulletproof vest while he patrolled a public school’s perimeter.
Hundreds of officers combed the
area. Nine schools also were locked
down. More than 9,000 students
were ordered to stay in their classrooms for up to 10 hours. They had little food and no bathroom
breaks for up to six hours. Some had to use trash cans as toilets.
An eight-square-mile area also was locked down, snarling traffic
and disrupting people’s lives.