Former Roselle mayor sentenced for insurance fraud

ROSELLE — A former mayor of Roselle has been sentenced to 90 days in county jail for committing insurance fraud in connection with a motor vehicle accident that took place a little more than four years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park announced.

Garrett Smith, 53, also will serve a period of three years’ probation, according to the terms set down Friday by state Superior Court Judge Robert Mega. Smith had pleaded guilty in February to a single count of second-degree insurance fraud, with the admission coming the day before his trial was scheduled to begin following a series of delays.

It was approximately 2 a.m. on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2010, when Smith left a Roselle bar and struck a parked vehicle with his 2001 Lincoln Town Car on his way home, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Vanderstreet, who prosecuted the case.

Instead of reporting the accident, however, Smith continued home, Vanderstreet said. The next day, having parked his car facing the wrong way on the street outside of his home, Smith called police to report that someone – possibly the driver of a snowplow, he said – had struck his vehicle in the aftermath of a significant snowstorm that had just hit the area.

Contradicting that account were two facts in particular uncovered by the Roselle Police Department: first, Vanderstreet said, officers traced a trail of automotive fluids from the scene of the actual accident to Smith’s garage, and second, a broken piece of Smith’s Town Car’s bumper was also recovered next to the vehicle he had struck.

An investigation that grew to also involve the Prosecutor’s Office’s Insurance Fraud Unit determined that Smith also made a series of materially misleading statements, some of which were recorded, to both the police and his auto insurance carrier during the days and weeks following the accident.

Smith served as Roselle’s mayor from 2003 through 2011.