A man admitted to his role Wednesday in an elaborate multi-state insurance fraud scheme, in which he and his wife collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments after intentionally eating glass in restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.
Ronald Evano, 49, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to 20 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, making false statements on health care matters and Social Security fraud. Prosecutors dropped four counts of identity fraud and health care fraud in the plea agreement.
Prosecutors say Evano and his wife, Mary, filed fraudulent insurance claims worth more than $200,000 and left a trail of unpaid medical bills totaling more than $100,000 in several states between 1997 and 2005.
An arrest warrant was issued last year for Mary Evano on the same charges as her husband. She is still being sought.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Pirozzolo said the two were treated at hospitals for glass ingestions at least a dozen times. They collected payments from insurance companies but never paid their hospital bills. In once instance, they took a $45,000 payment directly from a restaurant.
Evano said in court that he and his wife ate the glass because they needed money.
"We would go to a restaurant, and I'd say I had glass in my food," Evano said. "Then I would go to the hospital and say I was in pain."
The scheme began when Mary Evano went to a hospital claiming she ate glass at a Boston restaurant. The couple settled with the restaurant's insurer for $22,000, according to the indictment. In the following years, one or both claimed to have eaten glass at establishments in Braintree and Quincy, Mass.; Bethesda and Gaithersburg, Md.; Washington D.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Midlothian, Va.
The couple used false names, Social Security numbers and identity cards.
Evano said he and his wife did not know it was illegal to give a false Social Security number.
"I thought if I was making it up, it wasn't illegal. Now I know it is," he said.
Evano is being held at Norfolk County Jail. He faces up to 100 years in prison and will be sentenced next month.