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Contact 13: Staged car crash ring indictment

Posted at 11:10 AM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 14:15:33-04

When we hear about car crashes, most of us think those unfortunate events are accidents.
But state officials are going after two dozen people for allegedly getting into accidents on purpose. 

The Attorney General says, with 24 defendants, this is the largest criminal racketeering case his office has investigated. 

According to an indictment filed by the Attorney General, "Defendants participated in an insurance fraud ring, in which participants would intentionally cause automobile accidents and/or make false claims for the purpose of filing fraudulent insurance claims." 

In those so called "staged accidents" the Attorney General says suspects use a variety of ways to get into a car crash,  put the blame on other drivers, and collect insurance pay-outs for damages.

 Insurance companies doled out $130,296 to claimants, according the to Attorney General, and were demanding nearly $300,000 more. Insurance companies paid victims at least $47,163 and victims incurred out-of-pocket expenses of at least $22,000. 

A motion filed by the Attorney General to set bail claims defendants compromised public safety, "They are flat out greedy people who put the lives of others at risk so they could make a quick buck." 

The Attorney General says nearly all of these staged accidents occurred on Nellis Blvd. where the speed limit is 45 mph. One elderly couple had to go to the hospital for injuries sustained in one of the accidents referred to in the indictment according to the motion and children were also passengers in victim vehicles.  

Defendants in this case are facing felony charges of racketeering, battery with a deadly weapon, fraud and theft. Several of the defendants were not in the vehicles at the time of accidents but are accused of providing the vehicles or allegedly filing false claims with insurance companies according to court records. 

Attorney General Adam Laxalt spoke exclusively with Contact 13 about the indictment. 

"Very important indictment. Important to send a message to these types of would be fraudsters," says Mr. Laxalt. "That staged accidents, we will not let these pass. And people are going to be prosecuted for them."

The Attorney General's office tells us they've arrested 10 of the defendants since Friday. Two were already in custody on unrelated cases.