A Los Angeles police officer accused of making arrangements for his vehicle to be set ablaze and a fellow officer were charged on October 18, 2010 with automobile insurance fraud. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Auto Insurance Fraud Division, filed the complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BA376806. California Department of Insurance is the investigating agency.
Anthony Robert Villanueva, 24, is charged with one count each of insurance fraud, arson of one’s own property and false report of a criminal offense. Co-defendant Ricardo Rebolledo, 27, faces one count of insurance fraud. Both defendants are presumed innocent and a criminal complaint is not evidence.
Prosecutors allege that in April 2010, Mr. Villanueva arranged for his 2001 Lexus sedan to be taken to the desert and set on fire, resulting in a total loss. Mr. Villanueva then purportedly filed a stolen vehicle report with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and submitted a claim for damages to his automobile insurance company.
Co-defendant Mr. Rebolledo allegedly provided a fraudulent statement to Mr. Villanueva’s insurance company in support of the claim vouching for his friend’s whereabouts on the day of the supposed vehicle theft.Each defendant has been employed by the LAPD since September 2009. The recommended bail for Mr. Villanueva was $75,000 and $25,000 for Rebolledo.
If convicted as charged, Mr. Villanueva faces a maximum state prison term of six years, two months and a fine of up to $50,000. Mr. Rebolledo faces a maximum term of five years in state prison.
Attorney Commentary: Although it is surprising to see two police officers charged with such an offense, they are young and were officers for less than a year before the alleged offense was committed. The speed with which this case was investigated and charged was unusual (6 months) especially in a fraud case. The case may have been expedited due to the suspects being police officers. A case like this will be harmful in more ways than one since both men will face investigation and potential disciplinary charges from LAPD due to the filing of this case.
Any questions or comments should be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tracy Green is a principal at Green and Associates in Los Angeles, California. The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing individuals and companies in fraud investigations and federal and state cases, including auto insurance fraud. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/