Attorney General Laxalt Announces Largest Multi-Defendant Indictment in Nevada Attorney General History, Charging 24 Defendants with 68 Felony Counts in Staged Accident Ring


As a result of early-morning operations by investigators on Friday and today, a total of 10 defendants were arrested

    September 18, 2017

    Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced the largest multi-defendant indictment in Nevada Attorney General history. Late last week, a Clark County Grand Jury returned a 68 felony count indictment against 24 defendants for their roles in filing 23 fraudulent insurance claims related to staged automobile accidents and thefts. The counts against the Las Vegas residents include racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, battery with a deadly weapon (all category “B” felonies), insurance fraud, a category “D” felony, theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category “B” felony, and attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, a category “C” felony. The charged conduct was committed between September 2014 and May 2017.

      Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued 17 arrest warrants along with five summons for the defendants. Two defendants were already in custody at the time of the indictment. As a result of early-morning operations by investigators in the Attorney General’s Office on Friday and today, a total of 10 arrests have been made. Certain defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances before the court on September 21st and October 5th, 2017.

        As alleged in the indictment, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to stage no less than 19 automobile accidents and four thefts with the intent of fraudulently obtaining insurance benefits. Each defendant played a different role in the conspiracy. Some defendants are alleged to have provided the automobiles used to stage the accidents and thefts, driven the automobiles causing the accidents, or participated as a passenger, while others are alleged to have falsely claimed to have been the driver or passenger in order to maximize any insurance payout.

          “This indictment sends a clear message of deterrence to fraudsters engaged in dangerous staged accidents in Nevada,” said Attorney General Adam Laxalt. “Unlike most fraud schemes, which pose an economic danger to potential victims, the alleged conduct put the lives of those on Nevada’s roadways at risk for illicit profit. I am proud that investigators and prosecutors in my office are committed to protecting Nevadans by dismantling this, and similar, sophisticated criminal enterprises.”

            Joe Wehrle, President and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau added, “Our congratulations to all involved in putting a stop to this alleged staged accident ring. Staged accidents pose a real threat of injury, even death, to innocent victims. Insurance fraud is never a victimless crime, since we all pay for it in the cost of insurance coverage.”

              Below is description of the individual charges as listed in the indictment:

                • Julio Caesar Gonzalez (56 counts): One count of racketeering, one count racketeering conspiracy, one count multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, 17 counts of battery with a deadly weapon, 18 counts of insurance fraud, four counts of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, and 14 counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                  • Leandro Fonseca (19 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, 8 counts of insurance fraud, 4 counts of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, and four counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                    • Juan Miguel Angel Jr. Dolores (8 counts): One count of racketeering, one count racketeering conspiracy, one count multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, one count of battery with a deadly weapon, two counts of insurance fraud, one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                      • Jacob Salazar-Morales (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                        • Dorian Abner Inesa (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                          • Eleuterio Morales Ramirez (5 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of battery with a deadly weapon, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                            • Carlose Alberto Viera (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                              • Jose de Jesus Nunez-Badillo (7 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, two counts of insurance fraud, and two counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                • Yoel Arrastiarojas (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                  • Anthony Robles (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                    • Erick Garcia-Garcia (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                      • Irma Yolanda Meraz-Rangel (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                        • Lian Grave de Peralta Rosales (9 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the court of an enterprise or occupation, three counts of insurance fraud, and three counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                          • Loipa Vuelta Arafet (7 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, two counts of insurance fraud, and two counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                            • Eduardo Duran Rosales (7 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, two counts of insurance fraud, and two counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                              • Jesus Nunez Aranda (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                • Eloisa Badillo Esparaza (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                  • Lemay Oliver Monzon (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                    • Arlene Manuela Hernandez (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                      • Anilu Vianey Gonzalez (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                        • Yelandis Penichet Vargas (7 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, two counts of insurance fraud, and two counts of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                          • Jessica Valdes Tarrio (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of attempted theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                            • Edgar Betancourt Preval (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                              • Jose Alejandro Betancourt (4 counts): One count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of insurance fraud, and one count of theft in the amount of $3,500 or more.

                                                                In addition to this case representing the largest multi-defendant case in the history of the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, AG Laxalt is proud to have led efforts to receive the most significant guardianship exploitation indictment in Nevada’s history, the first state-level criminal prosecution of an illegal Internet poker site using Bitcoin as currency, and to have initiated the Office’s very first Financial Fraud Unit to bolster to increase capacity to combat statewide financial fraud.

                                                                  In an effort to combat fraud and to avoid being victimized by a staged accident, the Office encourages all Nevadans to be especially wary of the known types of staged automobile accidents:

                                                                    • Swoop and Squat – A driver causes an intentional and unavoidable rear-end collision by abruptly entering the lane in front of the victim, cutting the victim off, pulling in front of the victim, and forcing the victim to break suddenly. Oftentimes, this staged accident would include two separate automobiles where one driver would pull in front of a co-conspirator’s automobile and brake suddenly for no legitimate reason, giving his co-conspirator cause to also brake suddenly.

                                                                      • Drive Down - While an unsuspecting victim attempts to merge onto a freeway, a driver in the adjacent lane directs the victim forward with a hand motion, then deliberately crashes into their automobile and blames the victim for the collision.

                                                                        • Sideswipe - The victim is in a dual-turn left lane and unintentionally veers the vehicle into the adjacent lane for a few seconds. The driver in the adjacent lane then sideswipes the victim, and subsequently accuses the victim of driving recklessly.

                                                                          • Panic Stop – A driver, typically driving an older vehicle filled with passengers, will position his/her car in front of the victims while a backseat passenger waits until the innocent motorist gets distracted, such as by a cell phone call. At that point, the driver will slam on the brakes, causing the motorist to rear end the criminal’s vehicle.

                                                                            Drivers are encouraged to be wary of how many occupants are in and around the automobile at the time of the crash and thereafter. Drivers should also be aware of their surroundings and note whether additional people show up to the scene who claim to have been involved in the accident. Oftentimes, these individuals also file insurance claims. If you are involved in an automobile accident, you are encouraged to document any damage to your vehicle with a camera. Victims are also encouraged to document and photograph the driver or drivers involved, all passengers involved, as well as driver licenses and insurance card information. Those who stage these accidents oftentimes use multiple identification cards with aliases.

                                                                              An indictment is merely a charging document; every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

                                                                                This case was investigated and is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Unit. This Unit partnered with several insurance companies during the investigation and prosecution of this case. To view the indictment against the defendants, click here. Drivers who believe they are victims of a staged collision should report their suspicions to their respective insurance companies. For more information on staged automobile accidents, visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s website at https://www.nicb.org/.

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                                                                                    (These photos are courtesy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

                                                                                     

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                                                                                      Page Last Updated:9/19/2017