MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A Clifton Heights woman was sentenced to two years of probation on Monday after pleading guilty to submitting a fraudulent insurance claim, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Margaret Towell, 33, of the 200 block of Baltimore Avenue, was initially charged with three felony offenses: False/fraudulent/incomplete insurance claim, theft by deception involving false impression and criminal use of a communication facility.
Assistant District Attorney Gina Gorbey amended the fraud charge from a first-degree felony to a misdemeanor of the first degree Tuesday without objection from defense attorney Joseph D’Alonzo. The remaining charges were withdrawn.
Towell’s arrest capped a joint investigation by Clifton Heights police, detectives from the county’s Criminal Investigation Division Fraud Unit and a Farmers Insurance investigator.
According to a release from Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland, Towell filed an accident claim with Farmers Insurance on Dec. 16, 2018, in reference to an accident that occurred at North Springfield Road and Summit Street in Clifton Heights the day before.
She indicated she was driving her Ford Escape on Springfield Road when an unidentified vehicle hit her bumper, causing her to lose control of the vehicle and swerve into a pole.
Towell informed investigators that her two children and her boyfriend were in the car with her at the time of the wreck. She also indicated the striking car drove away from the scene without stopping.
An investigation into the claim revealed that Clifton Heights police responded to an accident at North Springfield Road and Summit Avenue in Clifton Heights on Dec. 15, 2018, at 9:48 p.m. Police saw a vehicle, identified as Towell’s Ford Escape, with heavy front-end damage. The vehicle’s driver, later identified as Towell’s boyfriend, was on the scene with two children.
The investigation revealed that Towell’s boyfriend was driving the vehicle erratically and ran into a utility pole. Clifton Heights police charged him with driving under the influence.
Towell was interviewed by a Farmers Insurance investigator Dec. 31 and admitted that she was not the driver at the time of the accident. County detectives Christopher Sponaugle and Edward Kazlo also launched an investigation into the fraudulent filing and met with Towell in reference to the claim.
Towell did not speak at the hearing, but D’Alonzo said the car had been taken without consent and that one of her children had ended up in the intensive care unit as a result of the crash.