Calif. Law Office Manager Sent to Prison in Large-Scale Auto Fraud

March 15, 2006

A California man, who with his brother managed a law office reportedly involved in a large-scale auto insurance fraud ring, was sent to state prison and ordered to make restitution of $1.5 million, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office reported.

Deputy District Attorney Loren Naiman of the Automobile Insurance Fraud Division said Munir Sharif, 42, of Valley Village, was sentenced to four years and eight months in state prison by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell. Sharif pleaded no contest to conspiracy, insurance fraud and state tax evasion charges.

Sharif was among 18 people, including two lawyers, who were charged in the massive case that covered a multimillion-dollar fraud stretching from 1993 to 2000. The case centered on the law office of Curtis Mitchell Shaw of Beverly Hills and Keith Darran Washington of Reseda. Both men pleaded guilty last year and have been sentenced. Shaw went to state prison; Washington to county jail and probation. Both also were ordered to make restitution.

The only defendant left in the case is Sharif’s brother, Ahmed Sharif Kahn, 42, also of Valley Village. He is due in court on April 7.

All other defendants – with the exception of one whose case was dismissed – have pleaded and been sentenced.

Deputy District Attorney Barry Gale said that between mid-1993 and the end of 2000, Shaw and Washington operated a law practice managed by Sharif and his brother. The office reportedly served as a clearing house for staged vehicle collisions that resulted in false billings to insurance companies.

The ring, which netted nearly $2.5 million, was investigated by the Urban Auto Fraud Task Force made up of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Insurance, the California Franchise Tax Board and the California Highway Patrol.

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