The dead deer scam has caught up to 41 people in the Philadelphia area. Among those charged are owners of an auto collision repair shop in South Philadelphia. Prosecutors are framing this as a major auto insurance scam involving fake car accidents and dead deer.
According to officials, the 16 month grand jury investigation of the American Collision and Auto Center unfolded an intricate scheme headed by shop owner Ronald Galati, Sr. He’s accused of being the leader of a team of accomplices which includes his wife, son and daughter, tow truck drivers, a city official, numerous insurance adjusters, and a Philadelphia Police Department officer to create false insurance claims for personal financial gain.
According to the investigation, Galati Sr. had a habit of creating false accounts at his shop which had vehicles damaged by accidents involving dead deer, falling objects, and other animal-related damages to increase the amount of money received for insurance claims. Investigators claim that Galati Sr. even had employees gather and store deer blood, hair, and carcasses in one of the shop’s garages so that they can be used as props in photos that were later sent to insurance companies as part of insurance claims.
The intricate dead deer scam also allegedly included the “help” of police officer Douglas DiEmidio, who legitimized the accidents, Erie Insurance Company adjuster Cheryl Stanton, Allstate Insurance Company adjuster Arthur Juliano, and a host of South Philly tow truck drivers.
Not only did Galati Sr. orchestrate the dead deer scam to insurance companies, but he also reportedly orchestrated numerous car accidents and ordered vandalization of local cars to drum up business for his auto body shop.
Before being arrested, Galati Sr. was able to scam $2.3 million from insurance companies, thanks to his dead deer scam. He also was able to win a city contract, thanks to help from City Office of Fleet Management employee Robert Otterson. This payday, obtained fraudulently, gave Galati Sr. a windfall of $1.8 million, even though Galati Sr. never fulfilled his end of the contract.
District Attorney Seth Williams said Wednesday that Galati coached customers to claim they’d struck a deer rather than a car. That way, insurance companies would consider them “no fault” accidents and pay the claims without raising the customers’ premiums.
Another black eye has been cast on Philadelphia with this new rash of insurance fraud arrests. The dead deer scam has proven to be profitable but, as usual, the law caught up with the perpetrator of the crime.