April 26, 2018
Defendant Receives up to 10 Year Prison Sentence
Las Vegas, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 39, of Las Vegas, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for his role in a 24 defendant staged-accident insurance fraud ring. In September of 2017, the 24 defendants were indicted by a Clark County Grand Jury on 68 felony counts. The indictment represented the largest multi-defendant indictment in Nevada Attorney General history. In March of this year, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of Multiple Transactions Involving Fraud or Deceit in the Course of an Enterprise or Occupation, one count of Insurance Fraud, and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Insurance Fraud. The charged conduct was committed between September 2014 and May 2017.
Gonzalez and 23 co-conspirators were involved in an alleged scheme that targeted 19 random automobiles throughout the Las Vegas Valley and staged vehicular accidents in order to obtain insurance payouts from false claims. Each defendant played a different role in the conspiracy. Some defendants are accused of having 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. In total, the indictment provides that the defendants filed 23 fraudulent insurance claims related to
these accidents and thefts. Gonzalez was personally involved in causing at least 17 of the 19 total staged automobile accidents.
Over the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Gonzalez perpetrated his frauds under several names including: Julio Caesar Gonzalez, Julio Caesar Gonzalez- Mejia, Christian Miramon, Cesar Gonzalez, Christian Lopez, Juan Chavez Garcia, Alejandro Reyes-Rodriguez, Roman Contreras Garcia, Eduardo Uribe Pena, Cristian Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Cristian Gonzalez, Erick Cruz, Erik Garcia, Erik Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Hernandez Torres, Yelandis Penichet Vargas, Oscar Pereira Santana, Yoel Arrastia, Lian Grave De Peralta Rosales, Jorge Ayllon-Lopez and Jose Nunez Bandillo.
“Sophisticated criminals orchestrate schemes that can drive up our insurance premiums,” said Laxalt. “What’s worse, staged accident schemes disrupt our roads and put the safety of members of our community at risk. With today’s sentencing, my office hopes to send a message of deterrence to would-be criminals.”
District Court Judge Mark B. Bailus sentenced Gonzalez to 24-120 months in prison for the crime of Multiple Transactions Involving Fraud or Deceit in the Course of an Enterprise or Occupation, 12-34 months in prison for the crime of Insurance Fraud, and 364 days in prison for the crime of Conspiracy to Commit Insurance Fraud. All three counts will run concurrent to each other. Gonzalez was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $173,867.51.
A total of nine defendants have pleaded guilty in this case thus far. As to the other eight defendants who have appeared in this matter, a trial is scheduled to commence on November 13, 2018. The Eighth Judicial District Court has issued arrest warrants for the remaining seven defendants, many of whom are suspected to have fled the country after learning that they were suspects in this case. The following defendants remain at large: Leandro Fonseca, Jose de Jesus Nunez-Badillo, Erick Garci-Garcia, Irma Yolanda Meraz-Rangel, Jesus Nunez Aranda, Eloisa Badillo Esparza, and Anilu Vianey Gonzalez. To report information regarding their whereabouts, please call 702-486-3214.
In an effort to combat fraud and avoid being victimized by a staged accident, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General 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 coconspirator’s automobile and brake suddenly for no legitimate reason, giving his coconspirator 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.
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/.
This case was investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Control Unit. This Unit partnered with several insurance companies during the investigation and prosecution of this case. To view the criminal Information against Julio Caesar Gonzalez, click here.
GONZALEZ, JULIO CAESAR
(Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)