DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES CONVICTION IN $7 MILLION INSURANCE FRAUD TRIAL

Defendants Staged Burglary of Diamond District Jewelry Office to Collect Insurance Payment

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the convictions of two jewelry wholesalers for staging a gunpoint robbery of their office in order to collect an insurance payment of $7 million. Following a bench trial before Justice Thomas Farber, ATUL SHAH, 49, and MAHAVEER KANKARIYA, 44, were found guilty of Insurance Fraud in the First Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.

"In a desperate gamble, the defendants devised an elaborate scheme involving disguises, a staged burglary and insurance fraud to escape their financial troubles," District Attorney Vance said. "Thanks to the quick work of our Office and the NYPD, it is clear that crime does not pay."

As proven at trial, on December 31, 2008, the defendants falsely alleged that two individuals dressed as Orthodox Jewish men entered the jewelry wholesale offices located at 2 West 46th Street and stole at gunpoint approximately $9 million worth of jewelry and diamonds. SHAH and KANKARIYA subsequently made a demand for payment from their insurance company on a policy in the amount of $7 million.

However, an investigation uncovered evidence that the defendants staged the robbery in order to commit insurance fraud. A video recording retrieved from a damaged Digital Video Recorder that was recovered from the scene revealed that SHAH and KANKARIYA had removed a significant amount of jewelry from the safe approximately two hours before the alleged robbery and replaced the jewels with empty trays.

Assistant District Attorneys Kavita Bovell and Eugene Hurley prosecuted the case under the supervision of Trial Bureau 50 Chief Warren Murray. District Attorney Vance thanked NYPD Detective Kevin Buehler for assisting in the investigation.

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced April 29, 2011.

Defendant Information:
ATUL SHAH, D.O.B. 10/25/1961
Closter, New Jersey

Convicted:

Insurance Fraud in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts

Defendant Information:
MAHAVEER KANKARIYA, D.O.B. 4/17/1966
Norwood, New Jersey

Convicted:

Insurance Fraud in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
Attempted Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts

A class B felony is punishable by up 25 years in prison, a class C felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and a class E felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

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