Man in auto insurance scheme gets 15 years

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of David Lopez
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of David Lopez

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 46-year-old Jacksonville man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in an insurance fraud scheme.

In October, David Lopez was convicted on charges of schemes to defraud more than $50,000, false insurance claims more than $100,000, and knowingly participating in an intentional motor vehicle crash.

The investigation revealed that Lopez was the behind-the-scenes owner of Indian Rehabilitation Center Inc. IRCI was a licensed massage therapy clinic that operated at 3636 University Blvd. from March through October 2012.

The investigation discovered that IRCI bilked insurance companies in excess of $228,000. The clinic was the mechanism to provide bogus treatment to staged accident participants for non-existent injuries.

Lopez's henchmen recruited individuals to stage the accidents and then get treatment at the clinic, according to prosecutors. Lopez is one of more than 30 people whom the state attorney's office has prosecuted in this case. More prosecutions are pending.

On March 14, 2012, Lopez and four others were involved in a staged accident in Duval County, prosecutors said. Lopez later filed a personal injury protection claim through IRCI. The clinic received $35,000 for treatment allegedly provided to Lopez and the other vehicle occupants.

The investigation revealed that Lopez also arranged for a straw owner of the clinic, directed how to fraudulently operate the clinic, controlled IRCI's bank accounts, and directed others as to which insurance companies to target.

In October 2012, the state attorney's office and Florida's Division of Insurance Fraud shut down the clinic and obtained an arrest warrant for Lopez. After a nearly six-month search, investigators found Lopez hiding at a remote fish farm outside of Tampa.