News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: March 20, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces San Diego Man Arrested on Automobile Insurance Fraud Charges
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that Ronnie Bennett, 50, of El Cajon, was arrested in connection with insurance fraud and filing a false police report. Bail was set at $60,000.
"Breaking the law in an attempt to escape debt never pays off," said Commissioner Poizner. "Investigative experts from CDI, DMV and other state agencies work together constantly to combat crime and put criminals behind bars."
According to CDI investigators, in November 2008, Bennett drove his 1999 Cadillac Catera to a repair shop in La Mesa to have it inspected due to mechanical problems. The owner of the shop knew Bennett as a regular customer. The vehicle was inspected and found to require expensive repairs. Bennett allegedly returned to the shop a few weeks later, and filled out an invoice for his vehicle, at the shop owner's request. Instead of providing his real name on the invoice, Bennett allegedly wrote the name "Butch Johnson," and an address that does not exist. His vehicle remained at the shop.
One week later, Bennett allegedly filed a police report with the El Cajon Police Department, reporting that his vehicle was stolen from his residence. He also purportedly filed an insurance claim, alleging that his vehicle was stolen from his residence. He later allegedly signed an affidavit of theft, under penalty of perjury, in which he claimed his vehicle was stolen. A few weeks later, his insurance company issued a check for $3,574 to Bennett for the vehicle.
The owner of the repair shop repeatedly called Bennett in an attempt to have him pick up his vehicle, or pay a deposit to begin repairs. Bennett was reportedly non-responsive. The shop owner then initiated a lien sale on the vehicle, and learned it had been reported stolen. DMV investigators recovered the vehicle at the repair shop in February 2009. DMV investigators contacted the Department of Insurance upon finding the vehicle, and CDI immediately launched an investigation.
A photo of Bennett's vehicle is attached.
This case is being prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
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.
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