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Six Indicted For Allegedly False Accident Claims

September 28, 1988

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A federal grand jury has charged six people with trying to defraud the regional transit authority by falsely claiming they were on a trolley involved in an accident.

The FBI and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority said Tuesday’s indictments are part of an effort to reduce the costly problem of fraudulent lawsuits against the authority.

According to the indictments, all of the six sued SEPTA claiming they were passengers in a trolley that derailed and collided with a car in Philadelphia four years ago. The indictments charge that none of the six was on the trolley.

Each of the defendants is charged with five counts of mail fraud for using the mail to further their schemes, said FBI agent John Kundts.

The six were identified in the indictments as Keith Hawkins, 35; Thomas Sturgis, 35; Bryan Keith Hill, 22; Lisa Ann Williams, 25; Edward Sneed Jr., 38; and Hyford Edward Myers, 36, all of Philadelphia.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

A police officer found only one passenger on the trolley after the accident, said Jim Kilcur, general counsel for SEPTA.

The authority receives 12,000 to 15,000 claims a year, and although estimating the number of fraudulent claims is difficult, it seems to be increasing, Kilcur said.

″The message we want to send out is ... they’re taking a serious risk,″ Kilcur said. ″We hope a few people go to jail.″