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OFF BEAT: Taste for venison puts alleged insurance swindler in crosshairs


Prosecutors in Philadelphia say they have caught an alleged mob associate with a taste for insurance fraud and a curious collection of taxidermy.

District Attorney R. Seth Williams said that auto repair shop owner Ronald Galati, Sr. led an insurance fraud ring of 40 members including his wife, son, a city official, a police office and two insurance adjusters. During the past four years, insurance companies issued payments totaling over $2,311,288 in connection to fraudulent claims submitted from Mr. Galati’s shop, American Collision, prosecutors said.

“When crafting bogus accident claims, Galati favored deer hits, vandalism and vehicular damages from trajectory objects because each could be categorized as a non-fault accident for which the insured would not be held liable,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Cooperating conspirators from American Collision stated that Galati could often be heard repeating his favorite mantra: ‘I live my life to cheat insurance companies — my high every day is to cheat insurance companies.’ ”

To lend credibility to his deer collision claims, Galati stored deer blood, hair and carcasses in the back of his shop, multiple witnesses told a Grand Jury.

The scheme unraveled after insurers including Mayfield Village, Ohio-based insurer Progressive Corp. and Erie, Pennsylvania-based Erie Insurance Cos. provided referrals and documentation that brought American Collision’s suspicious claims to light.

Mr. Galati faces 141 counts of conspiracy, 135 counts of insurance fraud and 133 counts of theft by deception. He was already under arrest in a murder-for-hire plot in Philadelphia and also faces allegations that he hired three men to shoot the boyfriend of his daughter.