Group names 'most brazen' insurance fraudsters in New York

A new list highlights millions of dollars in insurance fraud in New York.  Insurance fraud leads to higher insurance rates for everyone else.

The New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud developed the list from cases that ended with convictions.

In one case, New York City Dr. Peter Kalkanis led a fraud ring that launched $32 million of fake slip-and-fall injuries. The ring recruited hundreds of people to stage slip-and-falls and lie they were hurt.

The 'victims' falsely blamed sidewalk cracks and other problems. The group says Kalkanis even forced indigent people to undergo surgeries to further inflate false claims against insurers and businesses.

In another case, the group says NYPD officer George Scparta claimed he was hurt on the job. Yet he secretly was a bouncer at a strip club. Scparta falsely received more than $638,000 of disability money. Anxiety and depression prevented him from doing his cop duties after an injury, Scparta falsely claimed.

The group also cited Dr. Dante Cubanbang as running one of the largest pill mills in New York state history. He sold more than six million addictive pain pills from his Queens pain-management clinic for no medical reason.

He reportedly wrote 19,000 medically unneeded prescriptions to purported patients. The pills went onto the streets, defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers in the process. Cubanbang received around $5.7 million in patient fees alone. Cubanbang will be federally sentenced later. In another case, James "Jay" and Jeffrey Spina of Middletown ran medical clinics that stole $80 million from auto insurers, Medicare and health insurers in bogus claims. The clinics double-billed, billed for phantom treatments and forged medical records.

The group also said Rod Covlin, broke and aimless from a backgammon addiction, strangled his wealthy wife Shele Danishefsky in her Manhattan luxury apartment for $1.6 million of life insurance, plus other assets. Covlin made Shele's death look like an accidental fall in her bathtub. He received 25 years to life in state prison.

Insurance scams steal hundreds of millions of dollars in New York annually. All New Yorkers pay for fraud. Staged crashes and other automobile schemes, for example, help raise premiums that honest drivers pay.