California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi reported the arrest of Jesus Lerma, 51, from Riverside, after an investigation by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) Fraud Division revealed that it was not him, but his nephew, who was allegedly the driver of a vehicle involved in a three-car collision.
Lerma was arrested by the Riverside Police Department at his home March 4 on a warrant for filing a false claim and providing a false statement in support of a claim. He was booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside with bail set at $25,000. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.
According to CDI investigators, on Aug. 8, 2004, Anthony Garcia was involved in an auto accident in Riverside while driving Lerma’s truck. Garcia allegedly called his uncle to the accident scene. Upon his arrival, Lerma allegedly wanted to cover up the accident since his nephew did not have a license and was not insured under Lerma’s policy.
Investigators said that Lerma decided to tell the Riverside police that he was the driver involved in the collision. Lerma then allegedly also gave false statements to Farmer’s Insurance and Mercury Insurance, stating that he was the driver and was also injured by the collision.
No money was paid out to Lerma, but had this alleged fraud gone undetected, Farmers Insurance could have paid out up to $15,000.