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New Charges Brought In Auto Insurance Fraud Scheme

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A New York City woman, whom authorities allege was the ringleader of a large auto insurance fraud scheme in western Massachusetts, has pleaded not guilty to additional charges.

A judge in Northampton increased by $100 the original $100,000 bail set for 55 year old Lefen Chen at her arraignment on a new grand jury indictment. Chen is now facing 167 counts of insurance fraud, perjury, and conspiracy.  Assistant Northwestern DA Steve Gagne said Chen allegedly helped people from New York falsely register and insure their cars in western Massachusetts.

" In some instances they were paying premiums that were one-half to one-third what it would cost to insurance the same vehicle down in New York City," Gagne said in an interview earlier this year.

Grand juries in Hampshire and Franklin counties have charged a total of 48 people in the fraud scheme.  Some of the defendants agreed to make restitution in return for charges being dropped.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.