Calif. Auto Shop Owner Sentenced for Using Mice in Fraud

February 22, 2010

The owner of a Redwood City, Calif., auto repair shop has been sentenced for insurance fraud for planting dead mice in cars and claiming the rodents had caused damage.

San Mateo County prosecutors say 47-year-old Mehran Baranriz was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday after pleading no contest last year to 10 counts of insurance fraud.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says through his Group Specialists Inc., Baranriz billed insurance companies for more than $1.2 million for work that was never done.

Wagstaffe says Baranriz and his now ex-wife, Bita Imani, planted the mice in cars and told customers the rodents had damaged the vehicles.

Baranriz will receive credit for the more than three years he has already served.

His ex-wife was sentenced to six months after pleading no contest to one count of tax evasion.

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