Insurance Fraudsters Convicted of Other Crimes

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In my experience those who commit property or casualty insurance fraud are seldom arrested, even more rarely are they tried and convicted. Roberto Torner was an insurance criminal who avoided arrest for his insurance fraud activities but, because he was a serious criminal and dangerous, was arrested, tried and convicted of violent crimes. He filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence in United States Of America v. Roberto Torner, CRIMINAL No. 3:17-343, United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania (November 1, 2023) and the USDC kept Torner in Prison.


In June 2015, the Luzerne County Drug Task Force commenced an investigation into Roberto Torner after receiving information about his heroin trafficking and firearms activity from a confidential informant (C.I.). Investigators subsequently used the C.I. to conduct a controlled purchase of approximately five grams of heroin from Torner, his girlfriend Liza Robles, and his associate David Alzugaray-Lugones. The controlled buy and conversations leading up to the event were captured in a series of recorded phone calls and body camera videos obtained by the C.I.

The ATF commenced an investigation into Torner, Robles, and Alzugaray-Lugones involving suspected arson, insurance fraud, and firearms offenses. On August 28, 2017, after obtaining information about Robles’s historical firearms purchases and activities, and after interviewing witnesses who reported recent instances of Torner possessing firearms, the ATF executed search warrants at Torner’s properties. During the execution of those warrants, the ATF recovered multiple firearms and ammunition.  The ATF interviewed additional witnesses, who relayed accounts of Torner possessing firearms.

Torner was granted pretrial release after being charged in a criminal complaint and subsequent indictment. Thereafter, the ATF obtained information from witnesses that Torner possessed C-4 explosives while on pretrial release. On January 5, 2018, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at one of Torner’s properties, where they recovered approximately 1.5 pounds of stolen U.S. military C-4 plastic explosives.

Following a 12-day trial, Torner and his codefendants were convicted of all counts and Torner was sentenced to 270 months of imprisonment, five years of supervised release, and a $20,000 fine.

Torner challenged his conviction and sentence on direct appeal, only to have Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirm his conviction and sentence. Torner alleged that counsel provided ineffective assistance at trial for failing to seek suppression of recordings.


A review of the motion and the government’s brief, as well as the law and the claims make it clear that Torner’s claims are without merit.  Torner has not shown either the denial of a constitutional right nor that jurists of reason would disagree with this court’s resolution of his claims and  the court denied Torner’s motion to vacate.


I have spent the last 55 years working to help insurers and police authorities to defeat those who commit insurance fraud and disabuse authorities of the fact that insurance fraud is a non-violent crime and a crime without victims. Judges have been known to say from the bench that an insurance company can’t be a victim. In this case the ATF took on an insurance fraudster and convicted him of crimes of violence and possession of weapons and stolen explosives. His activities defrauding insurers and dealing drugs were ignored and his other criminal conduct stopped the fraud by putting Torner and his co-defendants in prison and stopped his work as an insurance fraud perpetrator. A small victory for the defrauded insurers.

(c) 2023 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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About Barry Zalma

An insurance coverage and claims handling author, consultant and expert witness with more than 48 years of practical and court room experience.
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