Essex County man charged with fraudulently collecting benefit checks intended for deceased housemate

An Essex County man has been arrested and charged with fraudulently collecting and cashing benefit checks intended for an Elizabeth resident who recently died, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.

Rickie Horvath, aka “Yoggi,” 54, of Belleville is charged with a single count of third-degree insurance fraud, two counts of third-degree theft, and two counts of fourth-degree theft.

The case was referred to the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit earlier this year by a life insurance company via the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. An approximately six-month Special Prosecutions Unit investigation revealed that Horvath fraudulently collected $14,000 from the life insurance company and approximately $5,000 from the U.S. Social Security Administration by making misrepresentations to both organizations, then collecting checks intended for a recently deceased Elizabeth resident with whom he had lived during the last year.

Horvath was arrested Friday morning at his home by members of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the Belleville Police Department, and the Social Security Administration. He subsequently was lodged in Union County Jail, with bail set at $75,000 by state Superior Court Judge William A. Daniel.

Convictions on third-degree crimes commonly carry penalties of three to five years in state prison. Anyone with additional information about Horvath’s activities is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Daniel Gallagher at 908-527-4543.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.