Phony Pumpkin Assault Claim Gets 3 Years For Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is a crime that costs everyone. While some insurance fraud schemes are triumphs of the criminal mind, others have an element of slapstick. The following case of insurance fraud falls into the latter category.

Thomas Lucey, 49, a former MBTA trolley operator, paid a friend to wear a Hollywood movie slasher costume and assault him on his midnight trolley run on the day before Halloween. Mr. Lucey’s objective was to claim post-traumatic stress from the assault and collect workers’ compensation from the MBTA and payments from his personal disability insurance policies with Unum.

The accomplice running from the assault scene in his Mike Myer8217s mask and costume but leaving his plastic pumpkin behind Photo from MBTA Transit Police video

Mr. Lucey collected $30,000 in compensation and $36,000 from Unum before the police discovered the assault was a hoax

A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Mr. Lucey for workers’ compensation fraud, insurance fraud, misleading a police investigation, and perjury. After his conviction, he appealed his three-year prison sentence to the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

The following is the Appeals Court summary of Mr. Lucey’s off-the-wall plan to collect insurance benefits for an on-the-job injury.

I have quoted the summary extensively because it lays out the prosecution’s case exemplifying the extremes to which some people will go to fraudulently collect insurance benefits.

The work-related assault and the plastic pumpkin clue

Mr. Lucey was a trolley driver on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line.

Just after midnight on October 30, 2016, Mr. Lucey was assaulted by a person in a “Michael Myers” costume carrying a plastic Halloween pumpkin at the Cedar Grove station [A trolley station in the Dorchester section of Boston on the line that runs through the Cedar Grove Cemetery, the only cemetery in the world with a trolley line through it].

A screenshot of the Cedar Grove Station from Google Maps

The attacker got into a dispute with Mr. Lucey over the trolley fare and punched Mr. Lucey, pulled him off the trolley, and continued to beat him as he lay on the platform. The attacker left the plastic pumpkin behind.

Two witnesses to the attack ran to a nearby home. An off-duty Boston police officer Steven McKunes answered their knock and used his radio to call for help. Multiple agencies responded, including the MBTA transit police, Boston police, and Boston Emergency Medical Services.

The MBTA transit police found the plastic pumpkin the attacker had dropped and gave it to the Boston Police for a fingerprint check.

Mr. Lucey suspiciously recalls how long he claimed to be unconscious

Emergency medical technician (EMT) Daniel Sheehan arrived at the scene and found Mr. Lucey alert and awake on the ground. Mr. Lucey told Sheehan that he had been knocked unconscious for fifteen seconds. Sheehan noted that in his experience as an EMT, people do not usually recall the length of time that they were unconscious. Additionally, Mr. Lucey did not exhibit any physical signs that he had previously lost consciousness. Mr. Lucey was transported to Carney Hospital, where he was treated for minor physical injuries.

On the day of the assault, Mr. Lucey files for workers’ compensation benefits

On October 30, 2016, Mr. Lucey filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and began to receive benefits based on his inability to work because of post-traumatic stress caused by the assault.

On December 1, 2016, Mr. Lucey filled out an “Industrial Accident Data Form” that he signed under the pains and penalties of perjury, in which he recounted details of the incident that he claimed left him injured.

Mr. Lucey collects $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and $36, 000 in disability policies benefits

On January 23, 2017, Mr. Lucey’s workers’ compensation benefits were terminated after he failed to provide the required notes from his doctor. He appealed the termination, and his workers’ compensation benefits were restored. He continued to receive workers’ compensation benefits through 2018. In all, Mr. Lucey collected about $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits from the MBTA.

In late January 2017, Mr. Lucey made a claim on two disability insurance policies that he had purchased through the Unum Insurance Company. Again, claiming total disability because of post-traumatic stress relating to his being assaulted, he collected $7,203.15 from Unum policy 1307720 and $28,783.33 from Unum policy 3669703.”

The plastic pumpkin tells the tale

Over a year after the October 30, 2016, assault, the Boston police identified five latent fingerprints on the plastic pumpkin left at the scene as belonging to one, Kevin O’Leary, a friend and former MBTA coworker of Mr. Lucey.

On November 28, 2017, the police went to O’Leary’s home to speak with him. O’Leary confessed that he carried out the assault.

The next day, O’Leary went to the MBTA transit police headquarters and spoke in detail in a recorded interview about the planned attack. O’Leary testified at trial that Mr. Lucey met O’Leary at a Hooters restaurant in Saugus on October 26, 2016, and paid him $2,000 in cash to stage an attack on Mr. Lucey while he was at work driving a trolley for the MBTA.

Police confirm O’Leary’s account of Mr. Lucey paying $2,000 for a phony beating

Further police investigation revealed bank and telephone records corroborating O’Leary’s account.

On October 25, 2016, the day before Mr. Lucey met O’Leary at Hooters, Mr. Lucey withdrew $3,000 from his bank account. The day after the Hooters meeting, October 27, 2016, Mr. Lucey deposited the remaining $1,000 in cash back into his own account.

Also, on October 27, 2016, O’Leary deposited $1,900 in cash in his bank account. O’Leary’s cellular telephone records also revealed that O’Leary had been in communication with Mr. Lucey on the night of the incident before and after the attack.

AAA records confirm O’Leary’s presence because he locked his car keys in his getaway car

Also, records of the American Automobile Association (AAA) confirmed where O’Leary had parked in the early hours of October 30, 2016, and how long he had remained in the area after the alleged attack on Mr. Lucey.

When O’Leary left the [Cedar Grove] station, he ran to his car, which was parked near Dorchester Park, and realized he had locked the keys inside. He removed his Michael Myers mask, put it underneath his car, and went into Dorchester Park, where he sat on a bench to take off his coveralls and gloves. Then he searched for a payphone along Dorchester Avenue, hid in a yard to avoid police presence, and eventually went to Carney Hospital, where he was allowed to use its phone to call AAA at 2:37 A.M.

Jury trial, guilty verdicts, and three-year sentence to serve in state prison

Peabody Contractor Indicted For Insurance Fraud And Payroll Tax Evasion On $2.5 Million Of Under-The-Table Wages

On February 21, 2018, a Suffolk County grand jury returned indictments against Mr. Lucey, charging him with worker’s compensation fraud, in violation of G.L. c. 152, § 14; two counts of insurance fraud, in violation of G.L. c. 266, § 111A; misleading a police investigation, in violation of G.L. c. 268, § 13B; and perjury, in violation of G.L. c. 268, § 1A

On June 4, 2019, after a four-day jury trial, the jury found Mr. Lucey guilty of all charges.

Considering the sentences in other insurance fraud cases that Agency Checklists has reported on, the presiding justice effectively threw the book at Mr. Lucey for his criminal machinations and sentenced him to:

  • State prison for three years and a day.
  • A fine of $5,000 for the worker’s compensation fraud, one count of insurance fraud, and misleading a police investigation.
  • Three years of probation to begin, on the remaining counts of insurance fraud and perjury, after the prison sentences; and,
  • As a special condition of probation, the judge ordered Mr. Lucey to pay “full restitution” to the MBTA and Unum Insurance Company

Appeal and affirmance of conviction except for order for the Superior Court to revisit Mr. Lucey’s ability to pay restitution

The Appeals Court denied all of Mr. Lucey’s grounds for appeal except a question on the procedure concerning the Superior Court’s order for “full restitution.”

Mr. Lucey argued, and the Appeals Court agreed, that the Superior Court judge had erred by ordering him to make “full” restitution without holding an evidentiary hearing to determine the amount of restitution and to consider his ability to pay.

The Appeals Court noted that the law required where restitution is ordered as a condition of probation, a judge “must consider a defendant’s ability to pay and may not impose a longer period of probation or extend the length of probation because of a defendant’s limited ability to pay restitution.”

The Appeals Court’s conclusion

Conclusion. For the reasons set forth above, the judgments of conviction and the order denying the motion for a new trial are affirmed. The order of restitution is vacated, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum and order.

Conclusion. For the reasons set forth above, the judgments of conviction and the order denying the motion for a new trial are affirmed. The order of restitution is vacated, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum and order.

So, ordered.

Reprints, or use of this article in any way on another website should include an attribution to Owen Gallagher and a link to Agency Checklists. Thank you.

Best insurance lawyers Massachusetts

Owen Gallagher

Insurance Coverage Legal Expert/Co-Founder & Publisher of Agency Checklists

Over the course of my legal career, I have argued a number of cases in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as well as helped agents, insurance companies, and lawmakers alike with the complexities and idiosyncrasies of insurance law in the Commonwealth.

Connect with me directly, by calling me at 617-598-3801.

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