JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Three individuals were sentenced to years in prison for their involvement in a staged car accident and insurance fraud scheme in Jacksonville.

George Orlando Ortiz Jr., 33, received 9½ years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of committing a staged motor vehicle accident, false insurance claims and schemes to defraud. Noylan Barreto, 21, was sentenced to three years in prison followed by 10 years of probation on two counts of committing a staged motor vehicle accident and one count of false insurance claims. Freddie Alberto Freytes, 43, received six years in prison on two counts of committing a staged motor vehicle accident and three counts of false insurance claims.

In 2012, the State Attorney’s Office and the Division of Insurance Fraud began its investigation into a series of staged accidents in Duval County.  Investigators discovered that these three defendants, known as “mid-level recruiters.” were part of a group that would stage fake car accidents and then file Personal Injury Protection claims through rehab clinics. The clinics, which prosecutors say were owned by the organizers of this scheme, were the mechanisms used to provide bogus treatment to the staged accident participants for non-existent injuries.

Insurance companies paid more than $150,000 for the accidents involving Ortiz, Barreto and Freytes.

More than 20 individuals were arrested in the scheme. David Rodriguez Lopez, a ringleader of the group, was convicted and sentenced last year to 15 years in prison on charges of schemes to defraud over $50,000, false insurance claims over $100,000 and knowingly participating in an intentional motor vehicle crash.