NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An NYPD officer appeared before a judge Thursday on fraud charges, with investigators alleging that he repeatedly filed false insurance claims and even staged an accident.
As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, Jose Urena sat with a stoic look on his face as he appeared before the judge, charged with felonies that could put him away for seven years.
"When you have a New York City police officer who violates the public's trust and commits insurance fraud, that's something we take notice of, and it needs to be taken very seriously," said David Schwartz of the group New York Stand Against Auto Insurance Fraud.
Urena's alleged insurance fraud involved luxurious Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
He worked at the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, and his annual pay topped $110,000, but investigators said he struggled to keep up with payments on a Mercedes ML350 and later, an S550.
Investigators claimed Urena turned to fraud, staging an accident by rear-ending a U-Haul truck and pocketing false damage claims totaling $16,000.
Investigators also claimed Urena falsely claimed his S550 stolen. Hours later, it was found in the Bronx as a burned-out hulk.
All told, investigators said Urena's fraud totaled $80,000.
"Your rates go up tremendously because of insurance fraud," Schwartz said. "It's costing New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars every single year. You are paying a fraud tax."
The New York State Attorney General's office is prosecuting Urena. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement, "Gaming the system, whether to steal money or to avoid financial responsibility, is both unethical and illegal."
Urena lives in Yonkers and is married. His mother was in court Thursday in tears.
Urena was to spend a night in protective custody in the lockup, and was likely to be released on bail on Friday.
He was suspended by the NYPD without pay late Thursday.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
for more features.