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Attorney Who Staged Wrecks Gets 5 Years

Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles attorney who admitted staging phony auto accidents to defraud insurance companies was sentenced to five years in prison Monday by a Los Angeles federal judge.

“It is important to deter other attorneys from engaging in this kind of activity,” U.S. District Judge Pamela Ann Rymer said of the sentence she imposed on Roger Ammann, 42. “The attorney’s role is critical in this kind of scheme, and I believe it is significant to make it unattractive to attorneys to go back on their oaths.”

Ammann, a resident of Beverly Hills who was a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney in the early 1970s before entering private practice, was the first lawyer to face sentencing on auto fraud charges in the Los Angeles federal courts.

Focus of Prosecution

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Assistant U.S. Atty. David W. Wiechert said the case was brought to the U.S. attorney by the district attorney’s office because of difficulties in speedily prosecuting lawyers in the state courts. Observing that Los Angeles has been called the auto fraud capital of the nation, Wiechert had urged Rymer to impose a “harsh” sentence.

“Without the active participation of attorneys, the staged auto accident ring could not function,” Wiechert told the judge. “The dirty attorneys in Los Angeles are watching this prosecution and a light sentence will certainly give them the wrong impression.”

Rymer, who ordered Ammann placed on five years’ probation, also directed that he reimburse a total of $201,885.06 to insurance companies and make additional restitution to the victims of the staged accidents.

Ammann was originally charged with filing false insurance claims in connection with 66 staged accidents in 1981 and 1982. Wiechert said Ammann conspired with the people who actually staged the accidents, then sent letters on their behalf to insurance companies. He also falsified medical reports and forged the signatures of chiropractors and physicians in submitting his claims, Wiechert said.

Restitution Offered

Thomas J. White, Ammann’s lawyer, had urged minimal prison time, noting that his client had offered to make full restitution.


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