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A body shop owner from Hamilton, N.J., was sentenced to three years in prison May 5 for leading an auto insurance scam, the Trentonian reported.
Robert Buckingham, 55, owner of Robert Christopher Collision, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and theft by deception in March 2010, according to court documents.
Buckingham ran the scam between April 2005 and July 2006, billing insurance companies for repair work that the shop never finished, according to the newspaper. Buckingham also tweaked bills for parts, billing for new parts when used ones were installed or billing for new parts when existing parts were refurbished and reinstalled. Buckingham also increased the damage to vehicles brought to his shop to up the value of repair claims, according to reports.
Buckingham reportedly has a prior criminal history that includes drugs, burglary, theft and credit card fraud. Per a plea deal, Buckingham had agreed to a three-year prison term prior to the sentencing hearing.
In court, however, defense attorney Robert Weir noted that Buckingham’s criminal history is 20 years old and asked the judge to sentence Buckingham to a non-custodial term because he was diagnosed with colon cancer and doctors found cancerous nodules in his lungs, and the attorney believes prison facilities can’t adequately address his client’s medical conditions, the Trentonian reported.
Despite this, the judge determined that Buckingham could be treated in prison and that his sentence wouldn’t be modified.
Buckingham was ordered to serve the three years and to pay $16,195.31 in restitution.
Buckingham apologized for his behavior: “I apologize to my family, and what happened I can’t change.”
Despite the sentencing, the judge granted Buckingham three weeks freedom before his prison term to get a CT scan, colonoscopy and a doctor’s visit.
Read the full story from the Trentonian