12 Illinois residents among those charged in $26 million insurance-fraud scheme

The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $26 million in alleged ill-gotten gains, as well as nine luxury vehicles, eight Rolex watches and properties in Orland Park, Bridgeview and Burbank.

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Sun-Times Media

Twelve Illinois residents are among nearly two dozen people who face federal charges for an alleged $26 million insurance-fraud scheme that lasted nearly a decade.

Prosecutors say the defendants filed false applications to get life insurance policies and then tricked carriers into paying death benefits by lying about the identities of deceased people.

The feds say the defendants would pay premiums on the policies for two years, until the period for contestability expired. Claims for death benefits would then be submitted using false death certificates. The defendants are also accused of lying to law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, funeral home staff and cemetery employees.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $26 million in alleged ill-gotten gains, as well as nine luxury vehicles, eight Rolex watches and properties in Orland Park, Bridgeview and Burbank.

Those charged from the Chicago area include James Mills, Juley Ely, Ginger Ely and Joe Rouga of Oak Lawn; Frank Costello of Hoffman Estates; Mary Bacco of Bridgeview; Steve Montega, Niko Ristick and Ricky Blanca of Orland Park; Mark Blanca and Diana Lumas of Burbank; and Joe John of Arlington Heights.

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