The attorney general's office has announced the largest case, with the most defendants, it has ever handled. Attorney General Adam Laxalt said 24 suspects are accused of ripping people off for almost three years by staging fake car accidents.
Last week, a grand jury returned a 68 felony indictment against the suspects for their roles in filing 23 fraudulent insurance claims related to the scheme.
The attorney general's office said the suspects conspired to stage at least 19 car crashes and four thefts to fraudulently obtain insurance benefits between Sept. 2014 and May 2017. Laxalt said each suspect played a different role in the scheme. Some provided the vehicle used to stage the crash, some drove the vehicles used in the crash, some participated as a passenger, and others falsely claimed to be the driver or passenger to maximize payout.
"I'm proud of my office for seeing one or two of these and taking a deeper dive... being able to uncover this large ring," he said. "We've had a huge spike in staged car accidents that certainly contributes to the incredibly high car-insurance rates in the valley."
Laxalt said the majority of the crashes took place on Nellis Boulevard and that the suspects primarily used the same technique: they would drive two cars in front of the victim, wait for the perfect moment, and then both brake suddenly.
A district court judge issued 17 arrest warrants along with five summons for the defendants. Two of the defendants were already in custody at the time of the indictment. Authorities arrested 10 defendants on Friday and Monday.
The charges include racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, multiple transactions including fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation, battery with a deadly weapon, insurance fraud, theft and attempted theft.
Out of the 24 suspects, Julio Caesar Gonzalez was hit with the most charges by a wide margin. He faces 56 counts, including 17 charges of battery with a deadly weapon.
Laxalt said he hopes this case prevents other scammers from getting any ideas.
"We're taking these cases seriously, and hopefully as these large convictions come out it will deter people from entering into this type of fraud," he said. "When you have this many people involved trying to scam the insurance companies and of course put our drivers at risk ... It's very elaborate."
If you recognize any of the suspects or believe you may have been a victim in a case like this, please call the attorney general's office.
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