A Woodland Hills man pleaded guilty Monday to charges stemming from a scheme to defraud insurance companies by filing claims for accidents that never happened, authorities said.
Vladimir Grishin, 40, a native of the Soviet Union, pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy, said Assistant U. S. Atty. David Scheper, who prosecuted the case. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $1.2 million in fines, he said.
Grishin will be sentenced Feb. 12 by U. S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, Scheper said. Fourteen other participants in the scheme have pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges, and one was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading innocent, he said.
Grishin, said to be the mastermind of the scheme, paid employees of a North Hollywood body shop to crash cars on the company's lot and used the wrecks to back up accident claims, Scheper said.
Participants would call their insurance companies to report that they had caused an accident. And others pretended to be injured victims, seeking compensation from the guilty party's insurance company for up to 30 visits to a West Los Angeles physician who was later sentenced to six months in prison and fined $50,000.
Insurance companies stood to lose $160,000 in the scheme, but ended up losing only several thousand dollars because the operation was stopped in time, Scheper said.