Five Arrested in Orange County for Fraud

February 22, 2007

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced the arrests of five people in four separate cases of insurance fraud in Orange County.

The arrests included:
• The arrest of an Irvine man for filing an insurance claim for rental car payments he allegedly made to himself. James Toufic Assali, 32, was arrested at his residence on Jan. 23, 2007 by the Irvine Police Department on three felony counts of insurance fraud, and one felony count of attempted grand theft. Assali was booked into the Orange County jail, and his bail was set at $20,000.

According to Orange Regional Office of the CDI Fraud Division Investigators, Assali submitted a fraudulent rental car invoice to Infinity Insurance claiming $5,235 in rental charges. The invoice showed payment for the vehicle was to be made to “Fortis Rental Solutions.” When Assali was questioned about the invoice, he said he never heard of the company Fortis Rental Solutions and that his wife had made all of the car rental arrangements.

During the CDI investigation, documentation discovered indicated that Fortis Solutions was a company that was registered and owned by Assali since Nov. 20, 2003. A pre-trial hearing is set for Assali in Feb. 2007.

• The arrest of an Irvine couple, Cynthia Irvine, 43, and Barry Irvine, 45, on three felony counts of insurance fraud. According to CDI investigators, on June 13, 2006, Cynthia Irvine backed out of a parking space and struck another vehicle, causing property damage and alleged injuries to both occupants. After the accident, she called the Automobile Club of Southern California and obtained insurance coverage for her vehicle, as she was uninsured at the time of the accident.

Later that same evening, Barry Irvine called the other party and informed them that he and his wife were uninsured and asked them to report a loss date of June 14, 2006, as that was the date their policy would take effect. However, the other party had already reported the loss on June 13, 2006 to their own carrier, Ameriprise Insurance. Cynthia then called Automobile Club and informed them that she had been in an accident. However, she reported the date of loss as June 14, 2006, the date her new automobile policy took effect.

Bail was set at $20,000 each. A pre-trial hearing is set for the Irvines in Feb. 2007.

• Oscar Godinez, 23, arrested on Jan. 25, 2007 in Anaheim and transported to the Orange County jail in Santa Ana. He was charged with four felony counts of insurance fraud; two misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting a crime; and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage. bail was set at $30,000.

According to Investigators, on July 11, 2006, Godinez crashed his vehicle into a parked/unoccupied vehicle in the city of Santa Ana, fled the scene of the accident and returned to his home. Godinez then called the Santa Ana Police Department and reported that his vehicle had been stolen from his residence. On the same day, Godinez also called his insurance company, AIG Insurance, and reported that his vehicle had been stolen from his home. During the CDI investigation, Godinez admitted that he was involved in the hit- and-run accident. A pre-trial hearing is set for Godinez in Feb. 2007.

• Julie Jo Lagos, 29, was arrested at her residence in Brea on Jan. 25, 2007, and charged with six counts of insurance fraud and one count of hit-and-run. Bail has been set at $25,000. If convicted, Lagos could be sentenced to up to five years in state prison.

According to investigators with the Orange Regional Office of the CDI Fraud Division, Lagos was involved in an auto collision on April 13, 2006. At the time of the collision, Lagos was uninsured because her policy had been cancelled due to non-payment. Minutes after the collision, Lagos contacted Auto & Home Insurance Plus and purchased a new policy by telephone but failed to disclose to Auto & Home Insurance Plus that she had been involved in the collision. On April 20, 2006, Lagos contacted her insurance company to report that she had been in a traffic collision April 13, but misrepresented the time of the collision so she could claim it on her insurance. Lagos made numerous misleading statements in support of the claim, including that she was not in the area at the time of the hit-and-run. Witness statements and a check of Lagos’ employment records indicated that she was, in fact, in the area of the collision when it occurred.

Source: CDI

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