3 males charged with staging freeway accidents in Southern California

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Three males accused of staging 15 accidents on freeways to bilk insurance coverage firms in Southern California final yr had been charged this week, the Los Angeles County District Lawyer’s Workplace stated.

The allegedly staged accidents left 21 folks injured, together with three individuals who had extreme accidents, Alex Karkanen, assistant head deputy for the District Lawyer’s Car Insurance coverage Fraud Division, stated Tuesday, Aug. 31. The incidents occurred from January to September 2020, totally on a number of freeways in Los Angeles County. One case concerned a crash in Orange County.

“What drives me loopy is for those who occur to be driving on the 405 Freeway that day the place they determine to have an accident, you’re placing folks’s lives in danger,” Karkanen stated.

Sometimes, the three males would journey collectively in the identical automobile, however not in each case, he stated. The motive force would lower in entrance of one other automobile and slam on the breaks to trigger the crash, in line with Karkanen.

“They get an older automobile, they’re driving it on the freeway and so they lower proper in entrance of one other automobile,” he stated. “Often, it’s business, typically not, however they’re on the lookout for anyone they assume has insurance coverage.”

One man needed to escape out of his burning automobile after one of many crashes and suffered from burn accidents, Karkanen stated. One other man had his leg crushed and one other had extreme again accidents from the staged accidents, he stated.

A few of the incidents occurred within the valleys on the 405 and 101 freeways, along with the 5 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, Karkanen stated. Some had been additionally on the 605 and 91 freeways.

A California Freeway Patrol officer who just lately underwent coaching by the California Division of Insurance coverage on tips on how to spot a possible staged accident observed a number of the warning indicators in one of many early incidents, Karkanen stated.

Costs had been filed Monday towards Eduardo Retana, 25, Ausencio Gomez, 46, and Victor Valle-Diaz, 55, all from Los Angeles.

Retana was going through 11 counts of assault with a lethal weapon and 10 counts of insurance coverage fraud; Gomez was charged with 10 counts of assault with a lethal weapon and 9 counts of insurance coverage fraud; and Valle-Diaz was charged with eight counts of assault with a lethal weapon and 4 counts of insurance coverage fraud.

The three males had been accused of defrauding insurance coverage firms of almost $330,000, the District Lawyer’s workplace stated.

Staged accidents occur pretty usually, however Karkanen stated it’s uncommon for this to occur on the freeway. Committing such crimes on a freeway is horrifically harmful, he added.

If somebody had died due to the staged accidents, Karkanen stated they’d have probably confronted homicide prices.

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