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Body shop owner sentenced for attempted murder and insurance scams

Ronald Galati was already serving prison time for plotting to kill his daughter's boyfriend.

Ronald Galati Sr., left, and Ronald Galati Jr.

Philly DA's Office

A South Philadelphia man already in prison for plotting to kill his daughter's boyfriend faces up to 29 years in prison for another murder-for-hire plot and a variety of scams run out of his auto body repair shop, prosecutors said.

Ronald Galati Sr., 66, was sentenced Friday to serve 14½ to 29 years in prison for attempted murder and various fraud charges. He was also ordered topay $1.8 millionto the insurance companies he defrauded, and another $200,000 to the city, according to the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

His son, Ronald Galati Jr., 39, was also sentenced for his role in the insurance scam. Hewill serve up to 23 months of house arrest, followed by another eightyears probation, authorities said. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $200,000 to Philadelphia and $250,000 to Erie Insurance.

Robert Otterson, a former city employee who pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in the scam and to perjury, will be sentenced Dec. 16.

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Galati Sr. is already is already serving 22 years in prison on federal charges that he hired three men to kill his daughter's boyfriend, according to Philly.com. He was sentenced Friday for plotting to kill his friend and his friend's son for testifying against him before a grand jury investigating his insurance fraud scams, the news site has reported.

He also has reported ties to Joseph Ligambi, a reputed mob boss, the website stated.

Galati and his son operated a repair shop, American Collision, on South 20th Street near Snyder Avenue.

In one of the most bizarre cases, the father and son duo defrauded insurance companies for nearly $2 million by using deer corpses to fake car accidents, then collecting the insurance money, prosecutors said.

The scam involved the Galatis keeping deer carcasses and deer blood in the shop to simulate accidents and take realistic-looking photographs of the damage to file the claims.

They also bilked Philly taxpayers for $400,000 after winning a contract in 2010 for overflow repair work for city vehicles through the Office of Fleet Management, where Otterson had been a supervisor, prosecutors said.

"Galati Sr. secured the contract because he colluded with Robert Otterson who was a Fleet Management Team Leader and Licensed Appraiser to manipulate the bidding process," the prosecutor's office said in a March statement announcing the charges. "Otterson not only told Galati the amount he should bid for the city contract, but he also passed American Collision through the preliminary inspection despite the fact that the shop did not own the required welder."

Prosecutors said that while Otterson was directing city vehicles to American Collision for repairs, Galati was overbilling the city, listing as much as triple the amount of hours per job as were actually completed. In one case, they billed 200 hours at $30 an hour for a job that should have taken 57 hours, according to the city.

A car with a scratched bumper was billed by Galati as taking 113 hours to repair, when the city estimated it should have taken no more than 16 hours.

In another case, American Collision charged the city $6,000 for parts for one repair job, even though $4,000 worth of the required parts were provided to the shop by the city.

Galati Jr. actively participated in the scam, prosecutors said.