PHOENIX (Friday, January 20, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne today announced that his office has indicted a southern Arizona man who’s accused of Fraud, Theft and Forgery in a case in which the accused allegedly posed as an attorney to defraud consumers and insurance providers.
41 year-old Victor Paul Vasquez of Red Rock, Arizona, was indicted this week by the State Grand Jury on one count of Insurance Fraud, a class 6 felony; one count of Theft of an amount over $4,000 but less than $25,000, a class 3 felony; and one count of Forgery, a class 4 felony. These charges are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Vasquez was arrested on January 12, 2012 by investigators with the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit and is currently being held in the Maricopa County Jail on a $10,000 bond. Vasquez is expected to be arraigned on these charges on January 26, 2012 before Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Rees.
“These are serious allegations that have caused financial harm to consumers and businesses, and we will vigorously prosecute these crimes,” Horne said. “Additionally, any time someone misrepresents himself as an attorney - an Officer of the Court - he is doing harm to the person who is depending on receiving proper legal representation, and also to our system of justice, which depends on the integrity of the legal process.”
The State Bar believes that Vasquez falsely represented himself as an attorney in order to negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of Mexican citizens involved in automobile accidents that occurred in the U.S. In August 2008 the Maricopa County Superior Court issued a Cease and Desist Order and Judgment ordered Vasquez to stop engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, specifically, negotiating legal rights for a specific person, using the designation “Esq.”, or advertising in any way that represents he is a provider of “legal services.”
In the charged case, Vasquez negotiated with State Farm Insurance Company in regard to an automobile accident involving Guadalupe Medrano. Vasquez sent State Farm an attorney fee agreement form signed by Medrano authorizing him to act as her attorney in regard to settling her insurance claim. In his correspondence with State Farm, Vasquez identified himself as “Victor Vasquez, Esq.” State Farm issued a $12,500 check payable to Medrano to settle her claim and mailed it to Vasquez. Vasquez cashed the check on behalf of Medrano and the State alleges Medrano did not receive any of these funds. As a result of the accident Medrano incurred $8,000 in medical expenses which were to be paid from the $12,500 check and remain unpaid.
Each class 3 felony count can carry a sentence of 2 – 8.75 years in prison and a conviction for a class 6 felony can carry a sentence of .33 – 2 years in prison.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Beverly Rudnick. This case was investigated by Agent Supervisor Chuck Gregory and Agent Jack Geesey with the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit.