Wisconsin man sentenced in fraud

| 8/22/2002

A Wisconsin man was sentenced last week to 37 months in prison for bilking his employer out of $750,000 in phony insurance claims. Bruce J. Bennett of Kenosha, WI, pleaded guilty to two felonies in May.

Bennett was responsible for resolving accident claims under $50,000 for drivers at JHT Holdings Inc.

He confessed to creating fake accident claims and writing settlement checks for as much as $25,000, according to a published report. At times, Bennett wrote checks to phony "victims" and paid friends or acquaintances $500 to cash them. Sometimes, he forged the endorsements and cashed the checks himself.

Bennett also recruited three attorneys, whom he paid to represent both the trucking company and the fake victims in the bogus accident settlements. When the attorneys cashed the checks, they allegedly split the money with Bennett. Each faces up to 10 years in prison after all guilty pleas are entered and sentencing is complete.

The fraud was uncovered after Bennett's bank discovered irregularities in his account and notified authorities. The prosecution claimed greed and a gambling problem motivated the scheme.