An Elizabeth Police Department officer has been charged with illegally collecting thousands of dollars in benefits by engaging in insurance fraud, acting Union County Prosecutor Thomas K. Isenhour announced Thursday.
Alana Velazquez, 39, of Rahway is charged with second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, and three counts of fourth-degree uttering a forged document.
An investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit revealed that Velazquez was injured on the job in January 2016, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Rosenthal, who is prosecuting the case.
Velazquez’s existing supplemental American Family Life Assurance Company (AFLAC) insurance policy did not cover on-duty injuries, but she submitted documents containing false and forged information to the company indicating that her injury occurred as the result of a covered, off-duty incident, Rosenthal said.
As a result, she allegedly received more than $8,600 in disability benefits to which she was not entitled.
Velazquez was served the charges against her at Elizabeth Police Department headquarters yesterday morning and released pending a first appearance scheduled to take place on Wednesday, September 27.
Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by terms of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Statement on behalf of Officer Alana Velazquez by Attorney Joshua F. McMahon:
Officer Velazquez is both innocent of these baseless charges and, sadly, yet one more victim of an already out-of-control Police Director. It is no small coincidence that the Elizabeth Police Department, despite being a City that is predominantly Latino and African-American, does not have a single black officer above the rank of Sergeant, and the only reason there are any black Sergeants in Elizabeth is because the Department of Justice ordered it. Cosgrove using his political connections to carry out acts of retaliation against Officers who dare to stand up to the Director when he does wrong is nothing new.
To that end, we fully intend to explore the special relationship between Elizabeth Chief Brennan and Acting Prosecutor Isenhour, and how that special relationship and the discrimination lawsuit my client filed against Cosgrove and Brennan's Department almost two years ago impacted what UCPO and EPD have done to this mother of two children.
Lisa M. Policastro on behalf of Joshua F. McMahon, Esq.