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May 11, 10

NEWS / Bergen County Fugitive Charged with Passing Bad Checks

TRENTON - Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a Bergen County man, who is currently a fugitive on an unrelated matter, has been indicted for allegedly passing bad checks to a Union County golf club.

According to Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Riza Dagli, John Getchius, 61, whose last known address was in Garfield, was charged Friday (May 7) with theft by deception and three counts of issuing bad checks, all in the third degree.

The Union County Grand Jury indictment alleges that between May 5 and Aug. 31, 2009, Getchius fraudulently obtained property and services from Suburban Golf Club (SGC), located in Union, by creating the false impression that he would make payments. The indictment alleges that Getchius wrote three checks to SGC, worth a total of $9,473, drawn from Capitol One Bank and the Sovereign Bank, knowing that the banks would not honor the checks.

Getchius is currently a fugitive after failing to appear at his sentencing on Nov. 20, 2009. A bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. He was scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree insurance fraud and two counts of third-degree insurance fraud. The charges were contained in an Aug. 8, 2008 Bergen County grand jury indictment. According to the plea agreement, the state was going to recommend that Getchius be sentenced to seven years in state prison and ordered to pay $25,600 in restitution and a $50,000 civil fine.

In pleading guilty on June 11, 2009, Getchius admitted that between Feb. 25, 2004 and Dec. 27, 2007, he used a variety of aliases and assumed identities to commit insurance fraud involving marine insurance policies. Getchius submitted $64,000 worth of fictitious insurance claims alleging that five dinghies, five outboard motors, a life raft and a marine tender were lost at sea on various dates. As a result of the fraud, Getchius received $25,600. The fraudulent claims were submitted to several insurance companies, including the New Hampshire Insurance Company, the Northern Assurance Company of America, the Quadrant Indemnity Company, the Vigilant (Chubb) Insurance Company, and the Zurich/Northern Insurance Company of New York.

Detective Earl Washington and Deputy Attorney General Dennis Kwasnik were assigned to the investigation. Deputy Attorney General Kwasnik presented the case to the Union County grand jury. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Dagli thanked the Suburban Golf Club for referring this matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and for their assistance in the investigation.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and a criminal fine of $15,000.


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