Three Marines based in Twentynine Palms pleaded not guilty to felony insurance fraud charges for allegedly filing a false claim that a vehicle was stolen and vandalized.
The trio also pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report, the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division said Wednesday.
James Joseph Quiroga, 22, was charged with two counts of automobile insurance fraud and filing a false police report. Nicholas Vega Jr. and Shawn Paul Burrel, both 21, were each charged with one count of automobile insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
They voluntarily surrendered and entered pleas in Joshua Tree District Superior Court.
“These arrests send a strong message that this department’s fight against crime extends to anyone who would break the law, regardless of their position,” Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said in a statement.
In fall 2004, an automobile insurance claim was submitted to Progressive Insurance for a collision that occurred before the policy was acquired, investigators said. Subsequent claims were made alleging the vehicle had been stolen and vandalized, authorities said.
An investigation determined the defendants allegedly concealed and damaged the car themselves.
No money was paid by Progressive, which said the claims amounted to about $20,000.
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