News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: May 7, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Mother, Son Arrested in Connection with Automobile Arson, Insurance Fraud
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today that Matthew A. Riddle Sr., 36, of Stockton; his mother, Lydia Riddle, 56, of Stockton; and John D. Vier, 32, of Sacramento were arrested in connection with insurance fraud and vehicle arson.
"Torching your car in an attempt to cash in on an insurance policy will not pay off - in fact, it will put you in jail," said Commissioner Poizner. "Teams of automobile fraud experts at the Department of Insurance are trained to quickly recognize these kinds of crimes. If you commit insurance fraud in California, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will help put you behind bars."
On August 24, 2008, Matthew Riddle filed a vehicle loss claim with his insurance carrier for the alleged theft of his vehicle. Both Matthew Riddle and his mother made statements to the insurer and law enforcement that his 1998 Ford Expedition was stolen from his residence in Stockton sometime while he and his mother were having lunch in Old Sacramento.
On August 25, 2008, a witness contacted the Sacramento County Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force with information regarding a possible staged vehicle theft and arson of a 1998 Ford Expedition, allegedly involving Matthew Riddle and Vier.
Matthew Riddle and his mother were arrested at their residence in Stockton on May 2, and booked into the San Joaquin County Jail. Matthew Riddle was charged with two felony counts of insurance fraud, one felony count of conspiracy, one felony count of arson of property and one count of falsely reporting a crime. Lydia Riddle was charged with one felony count of insurance fraud and one felony count of conspiracy. John Vier was charged with felony arson of property and one felony count of conspiracy. All three individuals could face up to five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
After a thorough investigation, the Auto Fraud Task Force discovered that Matthew Riddle allegedly conspired with Vier to get rid of Matthew Riddle's 1998 Ford Expedition by having Veir take the vehicle to an orchard in Linden where it was burned. Investigators also discovered that Matthew Riddle and his mother allegedly made false statements as to their whereabouts on the day of the alleged theft. The insurance company ultimately denied Matthew Riddle's vehicle loss claim, but had the company approved the claim, they would have paid approximately $10,000 for the loss of the vehicle.
This case is being prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.
The Sacramento County Urban Auto Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from the California Department of Insurance, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and the California Highway Patrol. The Auto Task Force, which has been in operation since 2001, targets any form of organized auto insurance fraud, including staged theft and vandalism rings, staged auto accident rings and other types of organized insurance fraud.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's Enforcement Branch since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
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