Two lawyers and one medical doctor pleaded guilty in connection with an elaborate interstate staged auto insurance fraud ring involving more than 55 victims/insurance carriers both in Arizona and California.
More than $2.5 million was paid out in fake insurance claims in an organized staged collision ring from 1993-2000. Investigators from the California Department of Insurance’s (CDI) Los Angeles Urban Auto Fraud Task Force targeted the ring in 2003 dubbing it “Operation Rent & Wreck” and announced the investigations and arrests of 18 people.
Doctor Paul Lee Guidry, Jr., 41, of Los Angeles, Attorneys Curtis Mitchell Shaw, 61, of Beverly Hills, and Keith Darran Washington, 41, of Reseda all pleaded guilty July 21, 2005 for their reported participation in the fraud ring.
Dr. Guidry pleaded guilty to one count of Penal Code Section 549 (false or fraudulent claims against insurers; solicitation, acceptance or referral of business) and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $100 restitution, serve 100 hours of community service, and 24 months of summary probation for his involvement in the elaborate well-organized fraud ring.
Shaw, who resigned from the State Bar of California when he was charged in 2003, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, three counts of filing false insurance claims and one count of failing to file state tax returns from 1998 to 2000. He may be ordered to pay up to a $10,000 fine, serve two to three years in state prison, and pay $1.5 million restitution to the victimized insurance companies. Sentencing for Shaw is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2005.
Washington, who still practices law, pleaded guilty to one count of Penal Code Section 549, (false or fraudulent claims against insurers; solicitation, acceptance or referral of business). He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2005, and faces a possible year in county jail and will be ordered to make restitution of $364,000.
The other 18 professional defendants in the case including: former attorney Linda Gudz, Ahmed Entezami, D.C., Gregory Ball, D.C., Marc H.P. Nadreau, D.C., and Adrienne Alston, M.D., pleaded guilty and are either serving sentences or awaiting sentencing.
According to investigators, this fraud ring consisted of licensed medical doctors (one was previously convicted for insurance fraud), licensed chiropractors, attorneys, several office employees, and other co-conspirators from Los Angeles and Phoenix.
The ring netted approximately $2.5 million by submitting phony medical bills and reports from 1993-2000 to numerous insurance companies. Fraudulent documents were created and provided by the doctors and chiropractors employed by the law office. More than 110 collisions were identified from the legal files seized from the Law Offices of Curtis M. Shaw & Keith D. Washington. The ring utilized rental vehicles to stage the collisions using a driver from Phoenix, and staging the traffic collisions primarily in the San Fernando Valley. During the course of the investigation, Fraud Division investigators learned that the law office was managed by two non-attorney brothers, Ahmed Khan and Munir Sharif. The brothers leased the law office and medical clinic in agreement with the licensed professionals and jointly hired the staff to run the operation.
Investigators say the scheme consisted of Ahmed Khan and Munir Sharif traveling frequently to Phoenix to recruit drivers to stage the rear-end collision with the rental vehicles containing three to four passengers. The insurance policies were recently obtained and the rental vehicles were rented mainly from Burbank, LAX and Van Nuys Airports just hours before the ring staged the collisions. Khan and Sharif would pay for the insurance policies, travel expenses to California, hotel accommodations and the cost of the rental vehicle.
The drivers of the rental vehicle were instructed to purchase additional insurance called Med-Pay or PAI (Personal Accident Insurance) in order to collect additional payments for the phony injuries. The evidence revealed the participants in the staged collisions never received medical treatment, however the medical reports and bills submitted to the insurance companies by the law office of Curtis M. Shaw and Keith D. Washington indicated the participants received physical therapy multiple times.
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