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12 Indicted in Accident Fraud Case

Times Staff Writer

The breakup of a ring that allegedly staged automobile accidents in an attempt to defraud insurance companies out of at least $60,000 through false claims was announced Tuesday by federal authorities.

A federal grand jury indicted a Los Angeles physician and 11 others on mail fraud charges in a scheme that authorities said had been operating in Southern California for more than two years.

State insurance fraud investigators, who appeared at a Los Angeles news conference announcing the indictments, said that similar schemes have run up more than $100 million a year in false insurance claims in Southern California alone.

“The real victims of staged accident schemes are the people of our state who pay for automobile insurance and who pay the price for insurance fraud in the form of higher premiums,” said U.S. Atty. Robert C. Bonner.

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Wants It Stopped

“The unscrupulous individuals, including medical doctors, involved in staging and faking accidents to collect insurance must be stopped,” he said.

The alleged organizer of the ring, Vladimir Grishin of Woodland Hills, is accused of introducing potential accident victims in the parking lot of a North Hollywood hardware store, having them exchange driver’s license and insurance information and then telling them what to say to their insurance companies.

Grishin allegedly would then arrange for the cars to be taken to the Golden Touch Auto Body Shop in North Hollywood, where a “fender-bender” would be staged to inflict damage to the cars.

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The drivers would then be sent to see doctors, including Los Angeles physician Stefan Snyder, 39, who is named in the indictment, to have bogus medical claims prepared, investigators said.

‘Accidents’ Detailed

In the two “accidents” detailed in the indictment, the intended victims of the fraud were Allstate Insurance Co., Mercury Casualty Insurance Co., State Farm Insurance Co. and J.C. Penney Insurance Co., Bonner said.

Assistant U.S. Atty. David C. Scheper, who is prosecuting the case, said a total of $60,000 in false claims were submitted but not paid by the companies, which had been alerted by undercover investigators working on the case.

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Grishin, Snyder and three other defendants, David Antebi of Los Angeles and Edgardo Gonzalez and Oscar Cerrato, both of Pasadena, are named in all 15 counts and face a maximum of 75 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Facing lesser penalties are Harutyne Kotschumian, North Hollywood; Rosa Yesayan, Van Nuys; Gevork Fstchian, Van Nuys; Asatur Khodzabashyan, Glendale; Nadeja Khodzabashyan, Glendale; Garbet Sevazian, Los Angeles, and Aram Sevazian, Los Angeles.


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