Donora mortician, helper face fraud charges
By Jeremy Sellew
Published: Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A Donora funeral director and an occasional employee are facing insurance fraud charges related to claims filed after two car accidents.
Karl Jackson, 58, of 546 Thompson Ave. and Bryan L. Lawson, 51, of 645 Fourth St., both of Donora, were each charged Wednesday with two counts each of theft by deception-prevent acquisition of information and filing a false insurance claim, and single counts of insurance fraud and theft by deception-false impression.
Jackson is the funeral director at the House of Jackson Memorial Chapel.
Lawson filed lost wage claims after he was involved in one accident Feb. 7, 2010, and another on Oct. 22, 2012, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Special Agent Henry Krakovsky of the state Attorney General's Office.
According to the criminal complaint, the first accident was a nonreportable, two-vehicle accident on Route 837 in Carroll Township.
Lawson claimed an injury suffered in that accident prevented him from working at his part-time job at House of Jackson because of heavy lifting the position entailed.
He received $25,000, which his policy with Donegal Insurance Group provided. He received the money between Feb. 2010 and Oct. 2011, the complaint states.
While receiving those payments, he increased the wage-loss benefits in his auto policy to $50,000.
In the Oct. 22, 2012, accident – a reportable two-vehicle crash on McKean Avenue in Donora – Lawson suffered a serious injury that required hospitalization and rehabilitation. Just over two weeks later, Lawson filed a first-party wage loss claim, claiming he was working full time at House of Jackson when the crash occurred.
Jackson admitted he signed a Wage and Salary Verification form dated Feb. 27, 2010, showing that Lawson earned $1,500 per month, confirming the information was false, the complaint states.
Jackson confirmed his signature was on a letter dated March 20, 2010, to Donegal Insurance that indicated that Lawson worked 897 hours in 24 weeks. He allegedly admitted the hours noted in the letter were false.
He also reportedly said he was aware Lawson created time sheets headed “House of Jackson Memorial Chapel” and that Lawson identified himself as an assistant director.
Jackson allegedly admitted that the time sheets were not part of his business records and that the dates and times showing hours worked were false and created solely to support Lawson's 2010 wage-loss claim.
The complaint further states that Jackson admitted the federal 1099 tax form dated 2009, showing that Lawson received $8,433 and submitted to Donegal Insurance for the 2010 claim, was not part of his business records and was falsified.
The affidavit alleges that after Lawson's second accident, “(Jackson) again agreed to assist him in obtaining wage-loss benefits from his insurance company.”
Jackson allegedly confirmed that he falsified a Wage and Salary Verification form signed and dated Nov. 12, 2012.
The form – which reportedly indicated that Lawson received $2,400 per month – along with a letter created by Lawson headed “House of Jackson Memorial Chapel,” dated Nov. 23, 2012, was sent to Donegal Insurance with a false time sheet showing that Lawson worked 128 hours from Oct. 1-23, 2012.
Jackson admitted the forms were created to support Lawson's claim. He also admitted that a photocopy of a check dated Oct. 26, 2012, in the amount of $1,920 sent to Donegal Insurance was not legitimate and was created to support Lawson's claim, court records indicate.
The photocopied check was submitted as a pay stub to show Lawson's wages.
Lawson provided $700 or $800 to make up the amount of the check issued to him, Jackson claimed.
Interviewed Aug. 14, Jackson said Lawson assists him with funerals because Jackson's full-time job at Dick's Sporting Goods distribution center prevents him from being available at all times. He admitted that Lawson assisted at House of Jackson “when the need arose,” the complaint states.
Jackson said Lawson generally receives $250 per funeral and that any money he receives is off the books, according to the complaint.
There are no records to reflect the funerals for which Lawson assisted in 2009, 2010 or 2012, or the money received for his assistance, court records indicate. Jay Musser, an investigator for Donegal Insurance, said neither wage-loss claims would have been paid without official records to support Lawson's work.
Lawson and Jackson turned themselves in and were arraigned Thursday by Magisterial District Judge Mark Wilson in Monongahela.
Each were released on $5,000 unsecured bond.
They are scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings before Wilson 1:30 p.m. Jan. 23.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.
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