State investigators say 2 men filed bogus car insurance claims in Arnold

Two Cambria County men are facing a series of felony charges after state investigators accused them of filing fraudulent insurance claims in 2020 with an agent in Arnold for three vehicles that they owned together.

Calvin Marcell Booker, 26, and David James Gaida, 23, both of the 400 block of Gallitain Road in Cresson, have been charged by an officer with the State Attorney General’s Office on 16 counts – including a dozen crimes – including insurance fraud, conspiracy, theft by deception and filing false documents.

The men were released after posting an unsecured bond of $25,000. They will face preliminary hearings before New Kensington District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr. on June 30, according to court records.

The agent wrote in a criminal complaint accusing the couple of adding a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette to an existing Geico insurance policy six days after receiving notice that the policy would be voided, Oct. 26, 2020, for non- payment of premiums.

On the day the policy was due to expire, they filed a claim for damage to the Corvette caused by paint splatter while following a line paint truck, according to the complaint. This claim was denied by the company on November 11.

About 45 minutes after filing the complaint, the men obtained a police statement from a State Farm officer in Arnold without disclosing that the paintwork was damaged, according to the complaint.

On Oct. 29, they filed a claim with State Farm for the paint damage, but told them it happened the same day, investigators said. The couple withdrew the claim in January 2021, according to the complaint.

Booker and Gaida are also accused of adding a 2006 Ford Mustang to their State Farm policy on Nov. 10, 2020, then filing a claim two days later for nearly $7,000 in damages, investigators said. They told the insurance agent the car was “virgin” when they bought it, according to the complaint.

But State Farm investigated and learned that the previous owner filed a damages claim for the car in May 2020 in Illinois, according to the complaint. The company provided police with photographs from a collision business there that showed identical damage to the vehicle, according to the complaint.

The third fraudulent claim involved a 2012 Chevy Camaro that the men reported to Geico as stolen on October 22, 2020, according to the complaint.

Investigators said the vehicle was recovered and taken to a salvage yard, where an adjuster for Geico determined Nov. 24 that the damage to the underside cost more to repair than the car was worth and issued a check to the men for $11,900, the complaint said.

The next day they bought a Farmer’s insurance policy for the Camaro, then two days later filed a damage claim underneath.

That claim was eventually withdrawn by the men, according to the complaint.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .

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Justin D. O'Neill