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Niagara Falls man convicted of insurance fraud

LOCKPORT – After a seven-day trial, a State Supreme Court jury took about an hour Wednesday to convict a Niagara Falls man of trying to scam an insurance company out of $32,458 in a burglary claim.

Kevin A. Ashby, 41, of Wrobel Towers, was found guilty of third-degree insurance fraud and attempted third-degree grand larceny. Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. ordered Ashby held without bail to await sentencing March 16. Kloch could send him to prison for as long as seven years.

Assistant District Attorney Heather A. Sloma, who prosecuted the case along with colleague Joel M. Grundy, said Ashby had been living in Canada until May 2014, when his permit to live there expired. Moving back to the U.S., Ashby applied for social services in Niagara County on May 20, 2014, stating he had been homeless. Three days later, he took out an insurance policy with United Frontier Mutual Insurance Co., and on June 13, 2014, claimed his apartment on South Avenue in the Falls had been burglarized. In July 2014, he bumped up the loss estimate from $750 in his initial police report, Sloma said.

Evidence showed that Ashby had been reimbursed for the same items in a previous burglary claim in Ontario with another insurance company. Sloma said she and Grundy produced witnesses who said Ashby had little property in his Niagara Falls apartment and had brought almost nothing over the bridge from Canada, which had barred him from returning to that country.

Assistant Public Defender Alan J. Roscetti represented Ashby, who before the trial turned down an offer to plead guilty to a felony charge that would have been reduced to a misdemeanor after a year of successful mental health treatment.