Buttafuoco Among 11 Charged With Auto Repair Fraud

December 19, 2003

Nine owners or employees of area auto repair shops were arrested and charged today with auto insurance fraud following a lengthy investigation by a multi-agency task force headed by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, District Attorney Steve Cooley announced today. Two others were charged but were not yet in custody.

A total of 11, including Joey Buttafuoco, co-owner of California Collision, a Chatsworth auto body shop, allegedly prepared fraudulent estimates for car repairs and auto body painting and allegedly helped undercover investigators file fraudulent insurance claims on cars that were not damaged. The task force headed by the D.A.’s Bureau of Investigation included the California Department of Insurance, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, the California Attorney General’s Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“We want to slam the brakes on insurance fraud in California that costs consumers and companies millions of dollars annually with this kind of ongoing targeted investigation and prosecution,” Cooley said.

Buttafuoco, 47, allegedly advised undercover investigators in September on how to file false insurance claims and how to best scam the insurance company. Buttafuoco, who gained notoriety with his affair with a 16-year-old Amy Fisher in the early 1990’s, was charged with three counts of insurance fraud and one count of grand theft. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to six years, four months in state prison.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office received important assistance in its investigation from the state’s Bureau of Automotive Repair. The Bureau has filed a separate administrative action to suspend or revoke California Collision’s license. That action alleges that the shop engaged in fraudulent activity by charging customers more than $12,000 for parts and services that were not provided on seven vehicles.

“The Bureau of Automotive Repair stands united with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office in its efforts to protect California consumers,” said BAR Chief Patrick Dorais. “When the Bureau finds shops cheating their customers, strong disciplinary action must be taken to make certain consumers are protected.”

Also charged were:

Oscar Herrera, 43, who manages an El Monte auto repair shop, Star Auto Haus, is charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Manuel Vargas, 52, owner of M&J Auto Body & Detailing in La Puente, charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Alfredo Ruiz, owner of Alfredo’s Auto Body in La Puente, and his son, Robert Ruiz, both charged with two counts each of insurance fraud.
Alfredo Ruiz, no age available, is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. Robert Ruiz, no age available, was not yet in custody. If convicted, each faces up to five years in state prison.

Carlos Jara, 49, owner of C&R Auto Body Shop in La Puente, charged with two counts each of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Arthur Gutierrez, 52, owner of Art’s Auto Body and Paint Shop in Pomona, charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Ivan Sandoval, 40, owner of M&B Paint in Pomona, charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Francisco Macias, 41, owner of M&F Auto Paint and Body in Pomona, charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Nick Michaels, 35, an employee at ABC Auto Body Repair in El Monte, charged with two counts of insurance fraud. He is being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Giovanny Diaz, no age available, an employee at M&D Auto Body in Canoga Park, charged with two counts of insurance fraud, was not yet in custody. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.