York garage owner charged with insurance fraud

YORK — A York garage owner is facing theft by deception and fraud charges after an investigation revealed he filed a false insurance claim, attempting to pass off a car he’d crashed as one that belonged to one of his customers, the York County District Attorney’s Office said.

Luis Gilbert Rivera, 55, of Wrightsville, is accused of attempting to defraud the Nationwide Insurance company out of $3,656.91 worth of repairs he was not entitled to, according to a criminal complaint filed by the DA’s Office.

Rivera is the owner of the Check Engine Garage on East Prospect Road, the complaint states.

According to investigators, on Nov. 13, 2018, Rivera purchased the vehicle from a York County woman for $450. He was involved in a crash while operating the vehicle on Dec. 17 of that year, the complaint states. He told the investigating officer that the vehicle belonged to him, investigators say.

But on Jan. 14, Rivera contacted his business’ insurance company, Allied Insurance Company, which is owned by Nationwide Insurance, and told the agent he had been involved in an accident while driving a vehicle that belonged to a customer. The business policy covered damage to vehicles owned by customers, but not those owned by Rivera, investigators say.

The damage to the vehicle was estimated at $3,656.91, according to the complaint.

On Feb. 28, investigators say, Rivera contacted the woman he’d bought the vehicle from, claiming he wanted to sell it but had lost the title. He had the woman sign a bill of sale indicating she had sold the car to a man named Alex Rios-Jiminez for $1,700 on Nov. 13, 2018, the complaint says.

In March, the insurance company contacted Rios-Jiminez, who told an investigator with the company that he never asked to buy the vehicle, and never paid $1,700 for it, according to the complaint. Rios-Jiminez told the insurance company that Rivera had approached him, claiming the township was giving him a hard time about the number of vehicles on his business property, and that he wanted to put a vehicle in Rios-Jiminez’s name to help with the problem.

Rivera, in turn, told the insurance company that Rios-Jiminez told him he wanted to buy the vehicle, and that Rivera agreed to handle the paperwork and perform the repairs to it. He showed the insurance company the bill of sale and an invoice made out to Rios-Jiminez for the repairs.

In June, investigators from the DA’s office spoke to Rios-Jiminez, who repeated that he never purchased the vehicle — and was not aware of its existence until after it had been wrecked. He told investigators he never paid any money for the vehicle and was not in possession of it, and claimed the invoice for repairs Rivera showed the insurance company for repair work was a fake.

Rivera was charged on July 8.

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