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Off the couch, in the frying pan for fraudsters.

The promise of a big payoff--along with bad television, apparently--compelled two cousins to stage an armed robbery during which one shot the other with a gun.

While living in Baltimore, Md., Joseph Francis Brooks, 46, orchestrated the holdup with his cousin Pierre Lamont Taylor so that Taylor could file a false workers' compensation claim with his then-employer.

On August 14, 2002, their elaborate plot was brought to fruition. Taylor was working for United Parcel Service (UPS) when the "assailant" approached him, firing a bullet into his right leg. Taylor reported the ordeal to UPS and filed a claim with Liberty Mutual Insurance, UPS' workers' compensation insurer. In November 2004, Liberty Mutual doled out a lump sum disability payment of $250,000 to Taylor, who shared the wealth with Brooks.

A former friend of Taylor's tipped off Liberty Mutual to the scam, and Taylor eventually confessed to Maryland State Police. During the confession, Taylor said that he and Brooks arrived at the idea from "watching television." Brooks pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, for which the court imposed a five-year suspended sentence and 18 months of probation.

When sentencing Brooks, Judge Michael J. Algeo, who has spent most of his working life as an attorney, prosecutor, and a judge, said that "This ranks as one of the dumbest things," he has seen anyone do. Judge John W. Debelius, III, of the Montgomery County Circuit Court, imposed a five-year suspended sentence, five years probation, and a judgment against Taylor for $250,000.

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Title Annotation:Reporter's Notebook
Author:Bramlet, Christina
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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