MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Five people have been arrested and charged in an alleged staged car accident ring on Long Island, the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged the suspects staged a series of accidents, in which rented U-Haul trucks were deliberately crashed into cars loaded with people who were in on the con. The participants in the cars were then directed to be treated for fictitious injuries at a Freeport medical clinic, the office said.

The participants then filed false insurance claims totaling more than $100,000 altogether, the office said.

The defendants were arrested and arraigned on Wednesday, on charges that they staged three different accidents between October 2010 and June 2011 for the purpose of defrauding insurance carriers and collecting illegal payouts, the office said.

The office claimed the accidents were staged by alleged ringleader Jean Guilberto, who allegedly recruited U-Haul drivers and the occupants of the second vehicles with promises of cash payouts or personal injury settlements, the office said.

After the staged accidents happened, the defendants allegedly lied to police officers who responded to the scene and pretended the accidents were real, the office said.

Guilberto then directed the participants to Freeport Medical PC, at 50 S. Main St. in Freeport, where the defendants allegedly filled out the insurance forms with false information about the accidents and false claims about soft-tissue injuries, the office said.

The first allegedly false accident involved a U-Haul rear-ending a Mitsubishi on Oct. 30, 2010, at Brook and Mildred avenues in Bay Shore, the office said. The second happened on Dec. 19, 2010 at Patton Avenue and East Little Neck Road in Babylon, and involved a U-Haul side-swiping a Chevrolet, the office sad. The third happened on June 29, 2011 at Milburne and Harold avenues in Hempstead, and involved a U-Haul rear-ending a Toyota, the office said.

The five defendants arrested and charged Wednesday were:

• Guilberto, 35, of Wyandanch, who stands charged with three counts of insurance fraud in the third degree, and three counts of grand larceny in the third degree;

• Jahmari Monroe, 27, of the Bronx, who allegedly drove the U-Haul in the Oct. 30, 2010 accident. Monroe is charged with one count of insurance fraud in the third degree and one count of grand larceny in the third degree;

• Troy Russell, 32, of Amityville, who allegedly drove of the U-Haul in the Dec. 19, 2010 accident. Russell is charged with one count of insurance fraud in the third degree and one count of grand larceny in the third degree;

• Alecia Holland, 38, of Wyandanch, who was allegedly a passenger in the car struck by the U-Haul in the Dec. 19, 2010 accident. Holland is charged with one count of insurance fraud in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the third degree, and one count of falsifying business records in the first degree;

• Larry Henley, 46, of Uniondale, who allegedly drove the U-Haul in the June 29, 2011 accident. Henley is charged with one count of insurance fraud in the third degree and one count of grand larceny in the third degree.

“Insurance fraud costs all New Yorkers and my office will hold those who seek to scam our insurance and medical systems accountable,” Attorney General Schneiderman said in a news release. “Breaking up staged automobile accident rings means safer streets and safer communities. It also means a fairer market for consumers whose insurance premiums skyrocket as a result of this kind of fraud.”

If convicted, alleged ringleader Guilberto faces up to 21 years in prison, the office said. The other defendants face up to seven years in prison.

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