Former Roselle mayor admits to insurance fraud

A former mayor of Roselle has admitted to 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 H. Park announced Tuesday.

Garrett Smith, 53, pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree insurance fraud before state Superior Court Judge Robert J. Mega on Tuesday, with the admission coming the day before Smith’s trial was scheduled to begin following a series of delays.

It was approximately 2 a.m. on Christmas Day, December 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. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 27, at which time he is expected to receive a term of 90 days in the Union County Jail and a period of probation of a length to be determined.