TORONTO – A Scarborough man admitted Friday he was the criminal mastermind who staged more than a dozen car crashes and defrauded insurance companies of $1.5 million.
Uthayakanthan Thirunavukkarasu, also known as Max or Mano, pleaded guilty to instructing the commission of offences for a criminal organization, proceeds of crime, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and fraud charges.
While the now 38-year-old ringleader filed taxes for a total income of only $21,460 in ‘06 and ‘07, he cashed cheques for $1.2 million, said Crown attorney Jackie Garrity in reading an agreed statement of fact.
“Mano personally received over $1 million from cheques he cashed using an account in his name,” said Garrity.
She said in 2007, the ringleader’s henchmen cruised salvage yards for wrecked vehicles- some of them luxury vehicles – that had been written off. Then a licensed mechanic would supply fraudulent safety certificates so that these vehicles could be returned to city streets where ring-members would crash the cars. Crash drivers received a fee of roughly $2,000.
Insurance companies gave out cheques to replace the cars and provide medical benefits to 46 passengers, whose health assessments came from people who worked for Thirunavukkarasu.
One teenaged passenger-victim suffered “severe and permanent brain injury” as a result of a May 7, 2007 collision near Birchmount Rd. and Mack Ave.
“Those injuries have been deemed to be catastrophic,” said Garrity.
“Insurance fraud is a serious problem that we all pay for in the form of increased premiums,” said Rick Dubin, vice-president of investigative services for Insurance Bureau of Canada, which assisted Toronto Police Service in this investigation. The co-operation of member companies was also acknowledged as helping get this matter to trial.
“In term of staged collisions, at times, innocent drivers are drawn into this dangerous situation. It’s a safety and security issue and there have been innocent victims before,” said Dubin.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Meloche said the crime jeopardizes the public at large, since false collision calls deprive people of vital services when genuine emergencies occur. Fraudsters involve the police to legitimize their collisions, court heard.
“They’re tying up ambulances, fire and emergency wards unnecessarily, making those resources unavailable for people that legitimately need them,” said Meloche.
Police charged 34 people as a result of Project Green Light, their investigation into the crime ring. The ringleader is the 27th accused to be convicted in this case.
Thirunavukkarasu will be sentenced on March 1 by Justice John McMahon.Sam Pazzano ,Toronto Sun
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