News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: April 23, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Extradition of First Israeli National on State Criminal Charges
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced that Israeli authorities extradited Moshe "Sanny" Assoulin, 36, of Sherman Oaks, California, pursuant to a California warrant for his arrest for insurance fraud, grand theft and identity theft and a federal warrant for possession for sale of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. Assoulin is an Israeli national who grew up in the San Fernando Valley and is the first Israeli national to be extradited on state charges under the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Israel.
"Insurance fraud is a serious crime with serious consequences for the perpetrator and serious costs for every honest Californian," said Commissioner Poizner. "You can try to hide or escape to a foreign country, but we'll find you and bring you to justice."
The California arrest warrant for Assoulin was issued in October 2005, as a result of a Department of Insurance Fraud Division investigation of multiple fraudulent automobile insurance claims that were submitted to car rental companies and insurance companies in 2001 and 2002 by Assoulin, who acted as the ring leader, and co-conspirators. The total loss to various car rental companies and insurance companies was estimated at around $500,000. Nine defendants have since pleaded guilty to various insurance fraud related charges in connection with the case known as "Operation Park & Wreck." Three additional suspects are still fugitives, and believed to be in Israel. The case was prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office Auto Fraud Unit.
The federal warrant was issued in May 2005, after Assoulin skipped federal bail and fled to Israel. Assoulin was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration DEA and Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE agents in June 2004, for possession for sale of Ecstasy. The arrest was made in connection with "Operation Money Man" involving a group that imported Ecstasy from Europe to the Los Angeles area.
Assoulin pleaded guilty in December 2004 to possession for sale of Ecstasy, and was released on bail from federal custody to await sentencing. He learned of the insurance fraud investigation against him, and in May 2005 he fled to Israel.
The Fraud Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration submitted to Israel requests for the arrest and extradition of Assoulin through the US Department of Justice Office of International Affairs. On August 19, 2007, Israeli National Police located and arrested Assoulin in Tel Aviv, Israel, pursuant to the extradition requests.
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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