Sep 082005

UPDATE: The body shop owner named in this article was found not guilty. I have removed his name from this post. See the comments below for details.

Michelle Durand writes in the San Mateo County Daily Journal about some auto body shop owners in California who are facing jail time for insurance fraud:

A Redwood City body shop owner nabbed with nine others in an undercover auto fraud string last December will face trial for allegedly inflating an insurance repair estimate unless he agrees to a plea at the end of the state.

(name redacted), 47, has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and is scheduled to possibly agree to a plea bargain Sept. 23, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. The offer would discount state prison, Wagstaffe said.

He and nine others were arrested in December as part of Operation Scorpion, a joint undercover sting by the state and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office insurance fraud unit. The operation targeted 13 auto body repair shops throughout the county. Of those, nine reportedly gave fraudulent repair estimates.

In each case, investigators brought the shops a car they claimed occurred during a hit-and-run, making the damage insured. They then pointed out some damage that occurred prior to the accident and asked the auto body shop owners to include it in the insurance estimate.

The body shop owner tells the client he is doing him a favor – and now both of them are committing insurance fraud. Something that seems so innocent and can be rationalized by saying you have been paying premium for so long and never turned in a claim to get it fixed – well – is it worth jail time?

  5 Responses to “Auto Body Shop Owner Faces Fraud Trial”

  1. I want you to know i was found not guilty after a long trial on 2006. Could you please pass this info to your readers. I need my name cleared. When I googled my shop name I came across this information. You could imagine how damaging this is to me . Let the truth be told! Hope to see this info out there

    [edited by YeOleImposter]

  2. Yes, I checked online and in March 2006 auto body shop owner, Yohannes Mesfines, was acquitted of fraud charges after a five-day jury trial. According to the newspaper articles he decided to go to trial rather than take a plea bargain offer of no state prison time and only 60 days in jail. Others who were accused (seperate sting operations I believe) either accepted plea bargains or were convicted. According to one article, besides costing him $20,000 in attorney fees, his business lost $300,000 when other businesses dropped their contracts with him after his arrest.


  3. Thank you for posting my comment still would like to see my comment some how connected to the orginal posting there is a big gap and i am afraid the readers might not see it .you have to understand this article pops up when someone googles mesfine autobody I hope there something could be done

  4. Glad to hear that the case was acquitted. I hope all fraud cases will be solve. Thanks for sharing this with us. More power.

  5. Can you please delete this post if you look up his name this is the first thing that pops up. He was found not guilty so my family would appreciate it if you would show some respect and take down this post.

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