Four Driven to Fake Collision Sentenced

January 11, 2002

Terry Thomas, 31, a resident of Downey, Calif., was sentenced in Los Angeles Superior Court on Jan. 4, to five years in state prison for his conviction on one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. The conviction is the result of his involvement in an auto insurance fraud conspiracy with three other individuals. Thomas was also ordered to pay $10, 648.00 in restitution and $400.00 in additional fines and restitution.

In an earlier plea agreement, co-defendant, Khalifa Lahut, 50, of Garden Grove, was convicted of insurance fraud and sentenced to five years in state prison. A second co-defendant, George Jackson, 57, of Los Angeles, was also previously convicted of insurance fraud and sentenced to three years formal felony probation, 500 hours of community service, a $200.00 fine and ordered to pay $6,500.00 in restitution. Another co-defendant, Jessie Harris, 42, of Los Angeles, was previously convicted of insurance fraud and sentenced to three years summary probation and a $200.00 fine.

The convictions are the result of an investigation by the Valencia Fraud Division of the California Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Branch.

The investigation determined that Thomas was involved in a legitimate traffic collision in April 2000, causing damage to the front of his vehicle; a collision for which he did not have insurance coverage. Ten days later, Thomas alleged that he was involved in a traffic collision with a vehicle driven by Harris. Lahut and Jackson were allegedly passengers in Thomas’ vehicle.

The fraudulent second collision alleged similar damage to Thomas’ vehicle as received in the first collision. Insurance claims were made to the respective insurance companies for the fraudulent collision and Allstate Insurance Company paid $23,148.07 as a result of the fraudulent claim.

Investigators seized Harris’ vehicle and a physical inspection of the vehicle confirmed the second collision had not occurred.

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