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AG's office nets 10 in variety of insurance fraud schemes

| Friday, June 27, 2014, 3:21 p.m.

A Butler County man set his grandmother's house on fire to cover up his theft of some of her belongings, the state attorney general's office said on Friday.

Brenhan J. Skrak, 35, of Prospect is charged with arson and insurance fraud. He was one of 10 people charged in connection with a variety of insurance fraud schemes. Several defendants were charged with illegal diversion of prescription drugs.

Investigators allege in a criminal complaint that on July 24, 2013, Skrak set fire to Lucille Skrak's Portersville Road home, where he had lived for about a year.

Lucille Skrak had left for a two-week Alaskan cruise on July 10. Investigators said that between July 10 and 24, Brenhan Skrak took a computer, television, dehumidifier and other items, and sold most of them at a New Castle pawn shop. Arson investigators said the fire started in a trash can in the home's computer room. Skrak submitted a claim to Nationwide insurance for $200 worth of clothing and a tent valued at between $600 and $800, investigators said, but that claim was rejected. Nationwide has paid Lucille Skrak nearly $150,000 for repairs and content replacement, and expects to pay $100,000 more to settle the insurance claim, investigators said.

Others charged with insurance fraud, including some with additional charges:

•Timothy Campbell, 33, of Ohio Township; Ryan Blumling, 34, of Moon; and Lucas McCormick, 32, of Coraopolis each were charged with insurance fraud, drug possession and related offenses. The men worked together to pass several fake prescriptions in Campbell's name to obtain painkillers using Campbell's insurance, investigators said. Blumling and McCormick passed other fake prescriptions in Campbell's name without his knowledge, investigators said.

•Melissa Bock, 26, of Natrona Heights wrote or called in more than 40 fake Vicodin prescriptions to pharmacies in Allegheny, Butler and Westmoreland counties while working as a medical assistant at Greater Pittsburgh Orthopedic Associates' Brackenridge office, investigators said. She's charged with illegal drug possession, fraud, forgery, insurance fraud and identity theft. She was fired in January, according to a criminal complaint.

•Anthony Griffith, 55, of New Castle and Matthew Masciarelli, 24, of Connellsville are charged with lying about the times and dates of an unrelated accident because their auto insurance had lapsed.

•Thomas Huth, 29, of Hedgeville, W.Va., and Preston Miller, 40, of Breezewood are accused by investigators of falsely claiming to Nationwide Insurance that Miller had made some electrical repairs to Huth's vehicle when no work was done.

•Shante Reed, 33, of New Castle is accused of filing false insurance claim saying she lost $1,900 in wages when she was caring for her 4-year-old son, who had been bitten by a dog in October.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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