The recent article, “Rat-Planting Repair-Shop Couple Sentenced,” that appeared on SFGate.com, covers a case in which an automotive repair shop owner and his wife have been sent to jail for killing rats and planting them in customers’ cars. The shop would then charge for having to fix rodent damage.
Below is the article as it appeared in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE newspaper.
Rat-Planting Repair-Shop Couple Sentenced
By Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, February 19, 2010
A Redwood City man has been sentenced to four years in prison and his wife jailed for six months for bilking customers of their auto-repair shop by putting rats in their cars and claiming that the vehicles needed costly work to fix rodent damage, a prosecutor said today.
Mehran Baranriz, 47, pleaded no contest last year to 10 counts of insurance fraud in San Mateo County Superior Court. His wife, Bita Imani, 35, pleaded no contest to felony tax evasion.
The couple, who ran the repair shop Group Specialists in Redwood City, billed 25 insurance companies for 236 claims over four years for work that was never performed, said Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney.
They told some customers that rodents had caused damage. In fact, the couple were buying rats, killing them and planting them in customers’ cars, Wagstaffe said.
At a hearing Thursday, Judge Craig Parsons ordered the couple to pay more than $875,000 in restitution to 25 insurance companies.
To read this article on the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE’s website, visit http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/19/BA6L1C485V.DTL.