Four Admit to Fraudulent Fuel Damage Claims

Created Jun 27th, 2019 | Updated Jun 28th, 2019

Four Bucks County residents have pleaded guilty to insurance fraud charges, admitting they filed fraudulent claims seeking reimbursement for damage to vehicles that did not occur.

The defendants filed their claims in the wake of a June 2017 fuel-delivery mix up at a Shell gas station at 8601 New Falls Rd., Falls Township.

The mix up occurred when a fuel supplier accidentally filled an underground storage tank for regular gasoline with diesel fuel. Numerous vehicles sustained legitimate damage as a result and the gas station has since gone out of business.

Robert Watts Smith, 63, of Bristol Township, received more than $20,000 from State Auto Mutual Insurance as a result of his fraudulent claims involving multiple vehicles. Some of his claims were denied.

Investigators caught on to his scheme when review of invoices revealed numerous discrepancies in the records related to claims traced back to Smith, despite his use of varying names and addresses. Among the discrepancies were document formatting issues, as well as invalid vehicle identification numbers and license plates that did not match existing records.  

In addition to vehicle damage, Smith made phones calls and sent emails demanding additional payments for injury and lost wages to an insurance adjuster and threatened to “go to the media” if his claim was not quickly resolved, a criminal complaint says.

Smith pleaded guilty June 20 before Judge Brian T. McGuffin, who ordered the man to serve six to 23 months in the Bucks County Correctional Facility with a concurrent three-years probation. He also must pay restitution totaling $22,521.08.

He is to report to jail July 19.

Fellow Bristol Township resident Shamsideem Aleem Darden pleaded guilty April 3 to charges stemming from his own false claims. In one instance, Darden claimed his Lexus E350’s engine was replaced as a result of damage from the fuel mix up. In a second, he claimed extensive damage to a Cadillac SRX.

Darden, 40, was sentenced by Judge C. Theodore Fritsch to five years of probation and ordered to pay $19,554.32 restitution.

David Brian Schilling, 52, of Falls Township, alleged his car also needed a new engine, and received $13,152.38 after threatening media attention if his claim was not quickly resolved.

Schilling did appear in at least one news report claiming damage to his vehicle over the incident.

He pleaded guilty March 7 before Judge Jeffrey L. Finley and was sentenced to three years of probation. He also must pay back the full amount he received as restitution.

James Christopher Wedul, 45, of Bristol Township, claimed the tainted fuel damaged his Cadillac CTS and received $3,690.13 from the gas station’s insurance company to cover repairs.

Investigators reviewing his claim, however, discovered Wedul did not own a Cadillac. Rather, the only vehicle registered to him was a Ford minivan.

Wedul pleaded guilty April 18 and was sentenced to three years of probation. He also must pay back the full amount he received.

These cases were investigated by Bucks County Detectives and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney William R. Murphy.

Contact: William Murphy, 215.348.6334,