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Question raised of his probation in Jeep insurance fraud case

By Scott J. Croteau TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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WORCESTER- More than a month after Timothy LaFratta's criminal case was continued without a finding in court - a case in which a former Worcester police officer is still facing charges - he was back again yesterday facing drunken driving charges.

Mr. LaFratta, 25, of 19 Modoc St., Apt. B, was arraigned in Central District Court yesterday on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, or .08 percent, and marked lanes violation after he was arrested in the city Saturday by state police.

Last month, charges against Mr. LaFratta of filing a false motor vehicle insurance claim and conspiring to file a false motor vehicle insurance claim were continued without a finding until August 2010.

His recent arrest prompted court officials to request a violation of probation hearing, which is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Mr. LaFratta was arrested in May along with now-former Worcester Police Officer John M. Degon, 38, of 29 Lawrence St. The 14-year-veteran of the city police force resigned shortly after his arrest in May. The former officer is facing charges of removing or concealing a motor vehicle to defraud an insurer and conspiracy to file a false motor vehicle insurance claim. He will return to Central District Court Friday.

On May 5, Officer Degon and Mr. LaFratta allegedly entered into an agreement at Mr. LaFratta's home to file a false claim that Mr. LaFratta's 1997 Jeep Wrangler had been stolen, according to a police statements filed in Central District Court. Police said the pair planned to defraud Commerce Insurance Co.

Four days after their alleged meeting, Officer Degon took Mr. LaFratta's Jeep Wrangler and then filed a police report stating the Jeep had been stolen. Mr. LaFratta subsequently filed an insurance claim.

Other police officers learned about the false report and notified supervisors. Investigators used the Jeep's LoJack system and found it parked at Somerville and Stoneham streets.

Mr. LaFratta was released on personal recognizance yesterday on the drunken driving charges.

According to a state police report on file in court, a person driving on Route 20 in the Worcester-Millbury area about 9:05 p.m. Saturday called state police to report a 2008 Toyota Camry that was swerving in and out of lanes.

State police caught up to the car and stopped it near the intersection of Millbury and Providence streets.

Mr. LaFratta allegedly had bloodshot and glassy eyes and had his flip-flop shoes on the wrong feet. The trooper told Mr. LaFratta the shoes were on the wrong feet, allegedly prompting the city man to say, "I didn't realize that."

"He further stated that he had too much to drink and was 'pretty intoxicated,' " the state police report said. Mr. LaFratta allegedly said he was coming home from a game and had drunk about 12 beers. He asked the trooper for a ride home, the report said.

Mr. LaFratta refused to undergo field sobriety tests and was then arrested. He allegedly refused a breath analysis test at the state police barracks in Millbury.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20080903/NEWS/809030634/1101
 
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