Woman sentenced for abandoning car, then reporting it stolen

NEWARK, NJ — A Newark woman was sentenced on Tuesday, April 12, to three years in prison for filing a fraudulent stolen auto claim that netted her more than $6,000.

Janette Bautista, 58, who pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception, was sentenced by Essex County Superior Court Judge Peter V. Ryan. As part of her sentence, Bautista must reimburse New Jersey Indemnity Insurance Company, a subsidiary of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, for the illegally obtained payout.

In pleading guilty in February 2015, Bautista admitted that, in November 2011, she reported her 2006 Chevrolet Uplander stolen to Newark Police. She then filed a claim with NJIC and received a $6,686.50 check for the value of the car. But an investigation by OIFP later determined that Bautista’s car had not been stolen. She had, in fact, abandoned the vehicle to collect the insurance money.

“Auto insurance fraud is a crime that victimizes every New Jersey motorist by driving up the cost of premiums,” said acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu. “Ms. Bautista has learned the hard way that the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor remains vigilant in prosecuting and punishing anyone who tries to cheat the system and force law-abiding citizens to pay the price for their criminal greed.”

Deputy Attorney General Michael Locke and Detectives Natalie Brotherston, Taryn Seidner and Deputy Chief of Detectives Fred Moore coordinated the investigation.