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CA Department of Insurance

Neighbors convicted of insurance fraud in staged auto theft

News: 2014 Press Release

For Release: November 5, 2014
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Neighbors convicted of insurance fraud in staged auto theft

SAN JOSE, Calif. -Joseph H. Williams, 28, was sentenced for felony charges related to his July arrest earlier this year for fraud, arson, conspiracy and filing a false insurance report. Williams received a sentence of six months in county jail, two years formal probation and was ordered to pay restitution for his crime. Williams' neighbor, Christopher A. Amerson, 44, returns to court on January 2, 2015 for sentencing.

"To those contemplating insurance fraud, let this be an example that this crime is a felony," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "Committing insurance fraud can result in your arrest and confinement. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring justice to those who defraud Californians."

In the early morning hours of July 23, 2014, San Jose Police responded to a vehicle fire. Police located the registered owner of the vehicle and discovered that Williams had not reported his vehicle stolen to law enforcement, but did report it stolen to his insurance company earlier that day. Officers found it suspicious that Williams reported the loss to his insurance company, but had not filed a stolen vehicle report with law enforcement.

Police conducted a follow-up investigation and discovered Williams was having difficulty making payments on his vehicle and solicited his neighbor, Christopher Amerson, to dump and torch his vehicle. Officers recovered several parts removed from Williams' vehicle in Amerson's garage.

The California Department of Insurance assisted in investigating Williams' insurance claim and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office prosecuted this case. Williams pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud and Amerson pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud and one count of arson.

Media Notes:

Amerson and Williams booking photos are available on the CDI Flickr page.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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