Saturday, 2:15 PM
Police arrest 'catalyst' in car insurance fraud crackdown
By David Abel, Globe Staff
A Lawrence man who fled the state before being tried on charges he helped stage a car crash that resulted in a woman’s death and sparked a statewide crackdown on car insurance fraud was arrested last week in New Jersey, authorities said today.
Hairo Gomez was arrested under an alias on charges of selling cocaine in a school zone in Perth Amboy, N.J., Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said in a telephone interview.
Gomez, who was arrested on Oct. 10, had been sought since February 2007, when he was to face manslaughter charges for allegedly staging a two-car crash in 2003. Romero said Gomez was driving the car that hit Altagracia Arias, 65, who was in the back seat of the other vehicle.
“This case was the catalyst that started the crackdown on insurance fraud in the state,” Romero said.
As a result of the case, he said, more than 320 people have been arrested since 2003 on similar charges of trying to defraud insurance companies.
Another man, Jacincto Maldonado Jr., who had been extradited from the Dominican Republic, has already been sentenced to two years in jail for taking part in the crash.
Romero said he wasn’t sure how long it would take for Gomez to be returned to Massachusetts. He said Gomez is being held on $150,000 bail.
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