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Remember Gary Miller of Encino? He was the attorney who was convicted of participating in a staged auto swoop/squat accident in which a passenger was killed. In fact, the gory picture of that accident appeared on the cover of a 1995 JCIFR.
Since the summer of 1992, the Law Office of Gary P. Miller was the subject of an extensive insurance fraud investigation by both the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division and the California Highway Patrol into the staging of fraudulent traffic accidents. These staged accidents were set up utilizing “sudden stop” types of scenarios. These scenarios involve an accident where an innocent driver is set up in a rear-end collision with a vehicle that suddenly stops or makes an unsafe lane change and slams on the brakes in front of an unsuspecting driver. At times, these staged accidents involved big rig trucks. The driver who was set up would normally be deemed the at-fault driver, which would then allow Miller to file bodily injury claims against the innocent driver’s insurance carrier.
In a move that would serve to shake up the unscrupulous community of attorneys participating in such antics, authorities charged Miller, Filemon Jimenez Santiago and several others with charges ranging from insurance fraud to second degree murder after a staged traffic accident went terribly awry. The particular accident in question was staged by Santiago and Juan Carlos Amaya, along with the driver and three passengers of a Pontiac Firebird. The Pontiac made a sudden stop in front of a car carrier hauling 11 automobiles (nobody ever said these guys were the brightest bulbs in the package), causing the big rig to overturn and crush the Pontiac. The rear seat passenger of the Pontiac, Jose Luis Lopez Perez, was killed as a result of the collision.
In August of 1996, a jury trial was conducted and Miller was convicted on six counts of insurance fraud and three counts of conspiracy; however, the jury was unable to reach a conclusion on the charge of murder. In January of 1998, the LA DA’s Office refiled the case against Miller on one count of murder. While awaiting retrial on the murder charge, a plea bargain (voluntary manslaughter) was reached which allows Miller to concurrently serve prison time for all of his offenses.
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