News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: April 22, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Department of Corrections Sergeant Arrested on Insurance Fraud Charges
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced that Joseph A. Torrez, 40, of Sacramento, was arrested today at his place of employment, Folsom State Prison, and booked into the Sacramento County Jail on insurance fraud charges. If convicted, Torrez could face up to five years in state prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
"Committing insurance fraud is never a smart idea," said Commissioner Poizner. "Teams of insurance fraud experts, including CDI enforcement officials, are quick to catch any individual who attempts to break the law and scam their insurance company."
On March 9, the National Insurance Fraud Crime Bureau contacted the Sacramento County Urban Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force with information regarding the possible location of a stolen motorcycle. State Farm Insurance Company had previously paid approximately $18,654 for a loss claim on the motorcycle. An anonymous caller contacted the insurance company, alerting them that insurance fraud had allegedly been committed.
The Auto Task Force discovered that Torrez claimed his 2005 custom motorcycle had been stolen from a garage in Sacramento County on August 5, 2008. He claimed that when he arrived at his mother's home, the yard gate was ajar, and the roll-up door to the garage where he stored his motorcycle was open. Torrez claimed he discovered his motorcycle had been taken from the garage where it was housed. Torrez reported the theft to his insurance company on August 5, 2008.
In March 2009, the anonymous informant led the Auto Task Force to the location of the motorcycle at a home in Galt. The motorcycle was seized.
The case is being prosecuted by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.
The Sacramento County Urban 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.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.