A Center City personal injury lawyer took his own life last week, days before D.A. Seth Williams released an indictment putting the lawyer at the heart of an alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Andrew Gaber, 52, took his own life on April 15. The manner of death was gunshot, sources said.
"The family is devastated," said Mark Neff, Gaber's criminal defense attorney and a friend. "He leaves behind a widow, two young children, a brother, brothers in law, a sister, a very large but close extended family. In terms of what brought this on, I don't think any of us really knows that."
D.A. Williams announced at a press conference Wednesday that 46 individuals have been indicted on charges related to a scheme to defraud various insurance companies by faking "slip-and-fall" incidents and filing lawsuits allegedly handled by Gaber, although charges will not proceed against Gaber.
"My condolences go out to his family," Williams said of Gaber. "I would have preferred of course for the criminal process to proceed."
However, Williams said that Gaber's death won't impact the proceeding of the criminal case.
"This office will not give lawyers who commit white-collar crimes a pass," Williams said. "Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime."
According to Williams, almost $400,000 in fraudulent insurance claims was paid out by a dozen insurance companies including State Farm, Allstate and Nationwide on fraudulent slip-and-fall cases as part of the scheme, which allegedly went on for approximately seven years.
Williams said that Gaber would pay "runners" $100 to $500 in cash to find people, often homeless people, Williams said, who would act as "claimants" by pretending to fall and hurt themselves, call 911 and seek medical attention, and then provide that paperwork to Gaber to file insurance claims.
In Gaber's office, there was a picture of a ruler measuring the height of a pavement defect to show a "good spot" for a slip-and-fall claim, Williams said.
When an individual slips and falls on uneven or broken pavement outdoors, the property-owner responsible for that pavement can be held financially liable.
Williams said most claims were filed against commercial tenants, although some were filed against residential tenants.
Neff said that, before his death, Gaber intended to file a not guilty plea and proceed to trial.
"The criminal charges that were outlined in the presentment were in large measure based on the word of criminals," Neff said. "Admitted, avowed liars and thieves -- those are the people whose word the government is taking as the gospel."
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