Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that an Essex County jury convicted Robert Goodwin, 49, of Newark of second degree insurance fraud for submitting a fraudulent insurance claim related to the theft and torching of his girlfriend’s vehicle.
“We hope this case sends a very clear message that people who lie to insurance companies and provide false documents will be prosecuted,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Fetterman.
Assistant Prosecutor Fetterman, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Gregg Brown, said on Sept. 14, 2009 Goodwin claimed his girlfriend’s 1999 Chevy Tahoe had been stolen and torched.
His claim immediately raised a red flag with insurance investigators because the vehicle has an anti-theft system that makes it virtually impossible to steal the car without the key, said Assistant Prosecutor Fetterman.
Over a seven month period Goodwin gave 11 false statements in which he claimed the car was stolen. In April 2010, he admitted to officials with Progressive Insurance, the company that insured the vehicle, that his statements were false, according to Assistant Prosecutor Fetterman.
He was subsequently indicted for arson, attempted theft and insurance fraud. After deliberating for two hours, an Essex County jury convicted him of second degree insurance fraud, said Assistant Prosecutor Brown. He was acquitted of arson and attempted theft.
The case was tried before the Honorable Michael L. Ravin, J.S.C. During the trial Goodwin’s two girlfriends testified. The one who owned the car testified for the state, saying she had been told by Goodwin that the car was stolen. Another girlfriend testified for the defense that Goodwin was with her when the theft occurred at 3 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2009.
As the verdict was read, Goodwin who stands about 6 foot 3 inches and weighs about 230 pound collapsed in the court room and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Following the verdict, Judge Ravin immediately revoked Goodwin’s bail.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 12, 2012.
“We will be seeking the maximum sentence of 20 years when the defendant is sentenced,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Brown, noting Goodwin has 15 prior convictions for burglary and drug offenses.