Chiropractor part of $1 million ring of deception, faces six years in prison.
Canyon Country chiropractor Bassam Michael Naber, 48, was
arrested this morning at his home on six felony counts of insurance fraud and
creating false documents.
Naber’s arrest was in relation to a $1 million auto
insurance fraud ring run by Hamid Taghizadeh, a Sherman Oaks attorney now in
custody and facing 86 felony counts that include filing false and fraudulent
claims, receiving or offering compensation for referrals, insurance fraud,
grand theft of personal property and failure to file income tax returns.
L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Greg Alker said that
Naber is one of five suspects involved in the ring, which came to California
Department of Insurance investigators more than four years ago with a cryptic
ledger seized by a CHP officer.
Alker credits CHP Sgt. Tannon Brown with cracking the code
on the ledger, which contained records of “capping” payments given to other
“Capping involves a payment made by a lawyer or law firm to
someone who has not been licensed as a referral agency,” Alker explained. “When
people get paid by a lawyer for sending a client to them, that’s illegal.”
Naber faces a number of potential penalties, according to
Alker. If convicted of the six felony counts, he could have his license
suspended and serve up to six years in state prison.
Others named in the complaint included chiropractor Yousef
Rushdi Helo of Simi Valley who faces nine felony counts; Jose Miguel Ayala of
Van Nuys who is charged with 83 felony counts; Claudia Belen Cota of Sylmar,
charged with 53 felony counts and Zekrollah Taghizadeh of North Hills, brother
of the ringleader, who allegedly helped run the insurance fraud scam.
Prosecutors allege that Ayala netted about $191,000 in
capping fees over the course of 10 months and Cota, an administrative assistant
at the Law Office of Hamid Taghizadeh in L.A., received more than $83,000 in
capping fees over a two-year period.
The case began in July 2004 after a California Highway
Patrol officer pulled over an alleged capper. Two sets of warrants were
executed shortly thereafter and the items were subsequently sealed. Two years
later, the seized items were unsealed following a failed attempt by Taghizadeh
to litigate the return of the property all the way up to the California Supreme
Among the items recovered was a capping ledger that contained a cryptic code.
The book included numeric sequences such as "10-1, 10-1-12, etc.” The code was eventually broken by
a CHP sergeant who determined that the code represented the first and last
letters of the cappers names. Jose Ayala, for instance, was “10-1.”
During the investigation, prosecutors and California Department of Insurance
detectives partnered with the Franchise Tax Bureau and discovered that
Taghizadeh had allegedly filed false returns for 2004 and 2005. Similarly,
Ayala had purportedly not filed a return for 2004 and Cota had not filed
returns for 2004 or 2005.