15 charged in Southern California insurance fraud ring

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Fifteen Southern California residents, including an employee with the California Highway Patrol, are accused of being part of an organized crime ring that colluded to profit from fraudulent auto insurance claims totaling over $350,000, according to the California Department of Insurance. 

The Inland Empire Automobile Insurance Task Force began its investigation in November 2022 after it was reported a CHP non-sworn employee, Rosa Isela Santistevan, 55, of Irvine, was allegedly selling traffic crash reports that contained personal information of people who had been involved in collisions across Southern California. 

Numerous search warrants were served and over 3,500 CHP traffic crash reports were recovered from the home of 26-year-old Esmeralda Parga of Pomona, officials said. Authorities were able to link Parga to Santistevan through the alleged ringleader, 36-year-old Andre Angelo Reyes of Corona. 

The investigation revealed it all began after Reyes befriended Santistevan and other CHP employees by donating to various CHP events and parties. That’s when Santistevan allegedly began printing and selling thousands of traffic reports to Reyes, who would then give those reports to Parga. Officials said Parga would then contact the people whose information was on the reports and pretend to be from their insurance company. Parga allegedly coordinated having those vehicles towed to repair centers that were misrepresented as approved by the insurance company. 

Officials said Reyes and Parga would then deploy tow trucks – whose drivers were allegedly in on the scheme – and would pick up those vehicles and tow them to CA Collision, owned by 35-year-old Anthony Gomez of Jurupa Valley. Once there, the vehicles were “held hostage” and insurance companies were contacted demanding cash payments from them to have the vehicles released.

Additional evidence showed the alleged crime ring was involved in other types of insurance fraud schemes including “collusive collisions.” One such collision was allegedly recorded by one of the suspects and discovered on his phone during a search warrant, officials said. In that video, one of the suspects is seen intentionally crashing a BMW into a Polaris Slingshot. Officials said two separate crash reports were claimed.

The 15 suspects have been identified as Andre Angelo, 36, of Corona; Rosa Isela Santistevan, 55, of Irvine; Esmeralda Parga, 26, of Pomona; Anthony Gomez, 35 of Jurupa Valley; Ezequiel Baltazar Orozco, 30, of Los Angeles; Antonio Terraas Perez Jr., 19, of Los Angeles; Erika Garcia, 31, of Los Angeles; Israel Avila Sandoval, 45, of Pomona; Luis Alberto Ramirez Jr., 32, of San Bernardino; Robert Arzac, 49, of West Covina; Antonio Ramirez Perez, 44, of Los Angeles; Brian Anthony Lopez, 25, of Anaheim; Emily Marie Boatman, 26, of Ontario; Ricardo Parga Jr., 23, of Pomona; and Steven Anthony Alfaro, 38, of Buena Park. 

All 15 suspects – three of whom are not yet in custody – are being charged with insurance fraud, grand theft by trick, and false impersonation. Officials said the charges involved 19 fraudulent claims, resulting in a total loss of $353,035.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.