From the outside, the American Collision and Auto Center in Philadelphia looks like a typical, family-run shop. The garage’s doors are painted a patriotic bright blue with crimson red trim and an American flag stands tall atop the red brick building. But inside, the garage tells a grisly story more akin to the Little Auto Body Shop of Horrors.
Authorities in Philadelphia have charged 41 people for their alleged roles in an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that involved faking car accidents using stored deer blood, hair, and carcasses.
According to investigators, shop owner Ronald Galati Sr. created false accounts of vehicles being damaged by “non-fault” accidents involving deer and other wildlife to increase amounts received for insurance claims. Galati Sr. instructed employees to gather and store props (such as deer blood, carcasses, and grass from nearby riverbeds) for staged Hollywood-worthy photo shoots.
Led by Galati Sr., the $5-million scheme allegedly involved a wide cast of local players, including his wife and children, insurance adjusters, two tow truck drivers, a city official and a Philadelphia Police Department officer.
Co-conspirators in the case say Galati Sr.’s mantra was, “I live my life to cheat insurance companies—my high every day is to cheat insurance companies.”
When he wasn’t getting high off of insurance fraud and swindling millions, the alleged mobster would also orchestrate deliberate car accidents and ordered cars to be vandalized to generate more business for his shop. He also secured a $1.8 million contract with the city of Philadelphia by conspiring with a city official.
Galati Sr, faces charges for hundreds of counts of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and theft by deception.
In a non-related case, Galati Sr. is also accused of seeking to kill his daughter’s boyfriend.
In 2008, there were 14,000 vehicle-deer collisions in Ontario, none of which were accused as staged.