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State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced the arrests of nine suspects today by the California Urban Auto Fraud Task Force for embezzlement, conspiracy and tax evasion in connection with an "insider" insurance scam. Investigators from the California Department of Insurance Fraud Division, the California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento County District Attorney's office made the arrests in Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo, Fairfield, Norwalk, California and Raleigh, North Carolina. Each suspect could face a maximum of five years in state prison and/or fines up to $50,000. 

Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr. announced a guilty plea in an insurance scam that cost insurance companies and consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Foti said the case is even being watched nationally as other states may follow Louisiana's precedent of prosecuting windshield repair scams. 

The recently completed Space Draw for the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) 2004 event in Las Vegas showed an increase over 2003 in the number of participating companies and the amount of space assigned, indicating a strong start to NACE being held during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) in November. 

In a ruling that bucks the national norm, The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last month that consumers could sue insurance companies for failure to negotiate reasonably once liability has been established in an automobile accident. It's called "third party bad faith" and it gives a motorist the right to sue the other party's insurance company when that other party is at fault and his insurer makes an unreasonable or "low ball" offer to settle the case. 

In the marathon of Arizona politics, the baton has been passed from the Fairness for Automotive Consumers (FAC) legislative committee members - David Fait, Brad Beebe, Randy Maddox, and Cindy Beckes - to State Representative Gary Pierce (R), and lobbyists Barry Aarons and Art Chapa. 

California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Director Charlene Zettel has presented her department's report on the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to the 2004 Sunset Review Committee with three recommendations for improving the BAR. The recommendations include consideration of a statutory definition of "fraud," a term that has been hotly contested in the collision repair industry over the past year.