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Federal authorities arrest three for defrauding brain injury fund

By Nikita Biryukov, January 28 2021 9:57 am

Federal authorities on Thursday arrested three residents accused of planning to defraud the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund.

Harry Pizutelli, the fund’s manager, and Toms River residents C.R. Kraus and Maritza Flores allegedly conspired to defraud the fund by misappropriating more than $4.5 million in fake payments. The money went to pay false invoices and vouchers generated by the three and others, authorities said.

They said Pizutelli created those vouchers to enable romantic and sexual relationships with Flores and other conspirators.

Kraus and Flores received the bulk of the $4.5 million defrauded from the fund. Authorities said they used the more than $4 million they won from the scheme for their personal benefit. They’re also accused of lying on their tax returns by underreporting income gained from the fraud scheme.

The health care fraud conspiracy charge against the three carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and fines for up to $250,000, or twice the loss sustained by the victim — potentially millions.

U.S. Attorney’s Trenton Branch Office Attorney-in-Charge Brendan Day represented the government. Pizutelli is represented by Benjamin West, while Bruce Throckmorton is representing Kraus, and Aidan O’Connor is arguing on Flores’ behalf.

The investigation into the alleged fraud was conducted by agents from the FBI and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division.

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