17 FAMILY AND FRIENDS FACE FELONY CHARGES FOR FAKING ACCIDENT CLAIMS IN ELABORATE AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
January 11, 2006
Contact:Susan Kang Schroeder
Deputy District Attorney
(714) 347-8408 Office
(714) 292-2718 Cell

17 FAMILY AND FRIENDS FACE FELONY CHARGES FOR FAKING ACCIDENT CLAIMS IN ELABORATE AUTO INSURANCE FRAUD SCHEME
 
SANTA ANA – Two masterminds and their 15 co-conspirator defendants comprising of their friends and family were charged with 94 felony counts for engaging in an elaborate auto insurance scheme that netted more than $100,000. 

Eleven of the defendants were arraigned today, including the former claims adjuster, Sheryl Bobbitt, 34, Downey, charged with 47 counts of insurance fraud and 47 counts of grand theft.  Bobbitt’s boyfriend and the other mastermind, Stanley Walker, 43, of Inglewood, faces the same charges and penalties as Bobbitt.  He will be arraigned tomorrow in C-55, Central Justice Center, in Santa Ana.   If convicted of all offenses, Bobbitt and Walker face up to 82 years in state prison and a fine of over $200,000.

Courtney Smith, 20, Inglewood, Mark Smith, 44, Inglewood,  Verna Henderson, 46, Inglewood, Diane Taylor, 48, Cerritos, Rachel Smith, 28, of Los Angeles, Barbara Okonkwo, 59,  Los Angeles,  Deici Alvarado, 24, Inglewood, Rosemary Lopez, 36, La Habra, Ricardo Lara, 23, Inglewood, and Jennifer Yearwood, 39, Compton were also each arraigned today on two to eight counts of insurance fraud and grand theft. 

Michael Walker, 43, Inglewood, Rhonda Jones, 38, Carson, Eric Bell, 36, Moreno Valley, and Douglas Madison, 63, Playa Del Rey, will be arraigned on Friday, January 13, 2006.  Susan Gordon, 48, Hawthorne, will be arraigned on January 30, 2006 on similar charges.  If convicted, these friends and family of Bobbitt and Walker could receive a sentence of between five and nine years in state prison and a fine of $50,000.

Bobbitt and Stanley Walker are accused of masterminding the entire scheme.  Bobbitt as the claims adjuster of Western United Insurance Company would receive paperwork for legitimate auto accident claims by people who had insurance and did not know any of the defendants.  Bobbitt and Walker are accused of recruiting 15 of their friends and family to pretend they were passengers in these cars where the accident occurred and turn in fake claims to fraudulently reap benefits. 

The friends and family are accused of receiving $200 to $800 for cashing the checks issued by Bobbitt, giving the remainder of the settlement check to Walker, who would share the money with Bobbitt.  There were 47 separate fraudulent checks. 
 
 “The more fraud by the bad guys means higher premiums for the good guys,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.  “These crooked types of `friends and family’ plans raise the cost of insurance and hurts people’s pocketbooks.” 

The California Department of Insurance Fraud Division, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Highway Patrol were involved in the investigation of these defendants.  Deputy District Attorney Nancy Lewis of the Consumer Protection Unit is prosecuting this case. 

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