General Crime

Four Men Sentenced in Auto Body Insurance Fraud Ring in Salinas

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Four men were sentenced Tuesday for their part in fraud ring where an insurance adjuster worked with some Salinas auto body shops to inflate repair estimates, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. Monterey County Judge Julie Culver sentenced Sergio San Miguel, 40, Meliquiades Garibay, 42, Ricardo Robledo, 33, and Jorge Torrez, 35, to formal probation and 180 days in county jail, Deputy District Attorney Marisol Mendez said.

The judge also required the men to pay restitution to the two firms victimized in the scam, the Allstate Insurance Company and Farmers Insurance Group, Mendez said. The four defendants, and a fifth man, David Ramirez, were indicted by a county grand jury in 2011 on charges of auto insurance fraud, grand theft and forgery following an investigation by the California Department of Insurance, Mendez said. The department uncovered a scheme whereby San Miguel, while an auto claims adjuster for Allstate, conspired to submit inflated insurance claims with Ramirez and Garibay, Mendez said.

At the time, Ramirez owned Central Coast Auto Body in Salinas, and Garibay operated Specialty Auto Body in Salinas, Mendez said. Robledo, who worked at both shops, also became part of the plan to defraud Allstate with San Miguel, as did Torrez, who was engaged in a separate auto body business, Mendez said.

The shops would overcharge for bodywork repairs on insurance claims they sent to San Miguel, who processed them with Allstate, which would issue payment checks at the inflated amounts for the conspirators to share, Mendez said. If any of the four men fail to comply with restitution and other terms of their probation, they could each face state prison terms of up to five years, Mendez said. Ramirez is to be sentenced on Sept. 10, Mendez said.

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