Allstate Adjustor Found Guilty in Fraud Conspiracy

February 14, 2003

An insurance adjustor who allegedly defrauded Allstate Insurance Company and several Allstate-insured homeowners who suffered damages during the 1994 Northridge earthquake was recently convicted of federal fraud charges.

Harry Miller, who also used the name Harry Booth, a 57-year-old resident of Pompano Beach, Fla., was found guilty by a federal jury in United States District Court in Los Angeles. The jury determined that Miller, who becomes the fifth defendant convicted in this case, was guilty of conspiracy, four counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins is scheduled to sentence Miller on March 3, at which time he faces a maximum possible sentence of 60 years in prison.

Miller, who worked in Glendale following the Jan. 1994 earthquake, was an adjustor for Allstate who was supposed to resolve homeowners’ claims for property damage following the temblor. Miller conspired with employees of an engineering firm and a construction company to concoct grossly inflated bills to repair earthquake-damaged homes.

Miller was reportedly paid kickbacks by the employees of the engineering firm and the construction company. The kickbacks totaled well over $110,000 in checks and additional amounts of cash.

Through the scheme, the engineering company and the construction company caused Allstate to overpay at least $1.5 million.

The co-conspirators pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy charges, and each faces up to five years in prison at sentencing. Those who previously pleaded guilty are:

Thomas Conrad, 42, an former co-owner of Western States Companies, Inc. in Anaheim, who is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17; Maurice Ethen, also known as Don Ames, 57, the other former co-owner of Western States Companies, who is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3; Richard Chambrone, 49, an employee of Western States Companies, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 24; and Michael Eugene LaPorte, 38, an owner of Dunn-Rite Construction in Downey, who is scheduled to be sentenced on March 10.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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