Brothers Sentenced in Car Insurance Scam

Two brothers at the center of a staged-accident fraud ring that involved dozens of people and bilked insurance companies out of more than $30 million were sentenced to prison Monday and ordered to repay about $350,000.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard L. Weatherspoon sentenced Amir Nateghi, 33, of Mission Viejo to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $223,160 in restitution.

His 42-year-old brother, Younes Nateghi of Irvine, received a four-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay $122,905.

The indictments were considered part of "the largest auto fraud case ever filed" and took about two years to unravel, Orange County Dist. Atty. Mike Capizzi said at the time the case was filed.

The brothers and 84 others indicted in the crime had repeatedly staged crude accidents with luxury cars and then overbilled for repairs or reported theft of cars that were not stolen, prosecutors said.

One scam consisted of concocting phony accidents with cars owned by the participants, who would damage the cars with sledgehammers and then get the vehicles repaired at shops connected to ring members. In several instances, numerous claims were filed on the same car, prosecutors said.

Insurance Department investigators noticed that the same car emerged in claims to different insurance companies and auto shops. In one case, a car appeared in four auto shops between June 22 and Dec. 12, 1994. In December, the grand jury issued 15 sealed indictments that included the Nateghi brothers.

More than 70 people have been arrested, the majority of whom pleaded guilty and received probation or home detention.

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