Friday, May 4, 2012

Keeping up with the Ories . . .

Daughter of state Supreme Court justice under investigation for insurance fraud
May 3, 2012 1:05 am
By Paula Reed Ward / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The daughter of a state Supreme Court justice is being investigated by the Allegheny County District Attorney's office for insurance fraud.

Casey Melvin, 24, of Sharpsburg was involved in a one-car crash in March in Shaler. She is the daughter of state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, who has been identified as the target of a grand jury investigation for possible misuse of her staff for campaign purposes.

According to a police report, completed by Officer Richard J. Fowler Jr., the accident involving Casey Melvin was reported at 12:54 p.m. on March 29 in the 800 block of Butler Street.

Ms. Melvin told Officer Fowler she was distracted when leaving Shaler Plaza and drove into a utility pole as she entered a Sunoco gasoline station. The concrete base of the pole was not damaged, but both air bags of Ms. Melvin's 2011 Jeep Laredo deployed. The vehicle was towed from the scene. She was not injured.

Shaler police Chief Bryan B. Kelly said Ms. Melvin was eating when the crash occurred. She was not cited on-scene.

According to Jeff Sibel, a representative with Progressive insurance, Ms. Melvin attempted to submit a claim for the crash, but it was denied because her policy had been canceled.

There is a grace period, generally, of 15 to 20 days, if a policy has lapsed, he said, and Ms. Melvin's crash happened after that.

"Due to Pennsylvania law, it automatically has to be referred to law enforcement," he said.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney, said there is a pending review by his office.

"The only thing I can say is that we have received a referral from Progressive concerning [Ms. Melvin], and we are in the process of reviewing the material."

Chief Kelly said it is a matter of course for traffic officers to check driver's licenses, registration and insurance at the time of a crash.

If there is a lapse in insurance coverage, the company is supposed to notify the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which then suspends the driver's registration, the chief said.

"I don't know what the lag time is for that," he said.

Mr. Sibel said Progressive does its own "due diligence" on a questionable claim before referring a case to police.

"A lot of times you can tell right away if it's a misunderstanding. You're not going to send that forward," he said.

Ms. Melvin could not be reached for comment.

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