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L.I. man charged in Far Rock fraud

A Long Island man was charged with insurance fraud, among other crimes, last week for allegedly bilking several insurance companies out of more than $150,000 in premiums by underinsuring nearly two dozen dollar vans operating in Far Rockaway as if they were vanpools, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

A vanpool is a group of seven to 15 people who have a similar commute pattern and band together in a van by sharing the cost of their monthly ride.

“Vanpools cost thousands of dollars less to insure than dollar vans — which operate commercially as shared taxis and pick up and drop off people anywhere along routes that commonly follows bus or subway lines,” Brown said in a statement.

The DA said Jeffery Metviner, 45, of 414 East Park Ave. in Long Beach, L.I. “created a significant public safety issue for those members of the riding public who frequent dollar vans” because he allegedly failed to properly insure the vehicles.

“If, for example, an underinsured vehicle was involved in an accident, the passenger insurance coverage limit would be a great deal less and any rider whose injury expenses exceeded the limit could find themselves having to pay out of pocket,” Brown said.

Metviner, an insurance broker who worked out of his home, was arraigned Jan. 20 on a 37-count criminal complaint charging him with insurance fraud, grand larceny, falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and petit larceny, Brown said. He was released on his own recognizance and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, the DA said.

Citing the criminal charges, Brown said Metviner and an unapprehended man met in Jamaica and conspired to file false insurance paperwork with various insurance companies between March 8, 2007, and June 15, 2009, on 21 commuter vans.

By intentionally classifying the dollar vans as vanpools, the van owners paid lower insurance premiums, Brown alleged.

Metviner allegedly defrauded insurance companies out of more than $150,000 in owed premiums, the DA said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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