Guilty plea for leader of auto insurance scheme

Lefen Chen hopes to avoid deportation to Taiwan

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — The ringleader of an automobile insurance fraud scheme in which dozens of New York City residents claimed they lived at fictional addresses in western Massachusetts has pleaded guilty in a deal she hopes will help her avoid deportation.

Lefen Chen had faced more than 160 counts but on Wednesday pleaded guilty to two counts of insurance fraud. She was not sentenced, which her lawyer said may avert deportation. The 56-year-old Chen is from Taiwan and in the U.S. illegally.

Prosecutors told The Daily Hampshire Gazette they agreed to the deal because Chen has already served several months in jail.

Prosecutors say the six-year scheme cheated insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums because insurance rates in western Massachusetts are much lower than in New York City.

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