Calif. Authorities Park Body Shop Owner on Fraud Charges; Sentenced to 7 Months of County Jail

August 10, 2004

Sacramento County (California) District Attorney Jan Scully announced that body shop owner Jason Todd Johnson was sentenced to seven months county jail following his plea to preparing a fraudulent repair estimate in violation of Penal Code section 550(a)(5).

In April 2003, the Department of Insurance Fraud Division, in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol, began an undercover sting operation which looked into body shop related insurance fraud.

As part of this investigation, undercover officers began making contact with body shops in the Sacramento Region, including M&S Body Shop where Johnson was the shop owner. Claiming to be an insurance policyholder, the undercover agent asked Johnson if he would write an estimate to support a fraudulent insurance claim for vandalism that did not exist.

In response, Johnson reportedly advised the undercover officer that he would get more insurance money if he took a razor blade to the car and added additional scratches himself. Not only did Johnson explain exactly how the undercover officer should scratch the car, but Johnson also reportedly provided the razor blade.

When the undercover officer returned with the vehicle scratched as Johnson had instructed, Johnson reportedly completed the fraudulent estimate and faxed it to the insurance company. Johnson stated that he would begin the paint job on the undercover agent’s car once the insurance company approved payment.

After Judge Gary Ransom imposed Johnson’s sentence, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Kennedy stated, “The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office will continue to support Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi in sending a clear signal to persons who cheat the auto insurance industry that they will be prosecuted and held accountable.”

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