17 face fraud charges

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A Downey woman, her boyfriend and 15 family members and friends have been charged with a total of 94 felony counts for allegedly joining in an auto insurance scheme that netted $100,000, officials said. Sheryl Bobbitt, 34, of Downey, a former claims adjuster for Western United Insurance Co., and Stanley Walker, 43, of Inglewood are accused of soliciting the others to submit claims as passengers in vehicles legitimately involved in accidents, said Susan Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Bobbitt would receive paperwork for the accidents on behalf of insurance clients, who did not know any of the people who later claimed they were involved in the accidents as passengers, Schroeder said. Bobbitt and Walker, the alleged masterminds of the scheme, were each charged with 47 counts of insurance fraud and 47 counts of grand theft, Schroeder said. If convicted of all 94 charges, they face up to 82 years in prison and fines of more than $200,000. Bobbitt made an initial court appearance Wednesday, along with Courtney Smith, 20, Mark Smith, 44, Verna Henderson, 46, Ricardo Lara, 23, and Deici Alvarado, 24, all of Inglewood. Also appearing in court were Rachel Smith, 28, and Barbara Okonkwo, 59, both of Los Angeles; Diane Taylor, 48, of Cerritos; Rosemary Lopez, 36, of La Habra; and Jennifer Yearwood, 39, of Compton. The others were charged with between two and eight counts of insurance fraud and grand theft, Schroeder said. Rhonda Jones, 38, of Carson, Eric Bell, 36, of Moreno Valley and Douglas Madison, 63, of Playa del Rey are scheduled to be arraigned today, while Susan Gordon, 48, of Hawthorne is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 30, Schroeder said. The friends and family members allegedly received between $200 and $800 for cashing checks issued by Bobbitt, who gave the remainder of the 47 fraudulent settlement checks to Walker, who would share the money with Bobbitt, Schroeder said. Fraud raises costs for consumers, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. “The more fraud by the bad guys means higher premiums for the good guys,” Rackauckas said. “These crooked types of `Friends and family’ plans raise the cost of insurance and hurt people’s pocketbooks.” – From staff and wire reportslast_img