On January 16th, 2014

Rancho Cucamonga Attorney Sentenced For Using Paid Recruiters To Prey On Accident Victims

SAN BERNARDINO -  On December 19, 2013, Attorney Walter Martinez, 60,  of  Alta Loma was sentenced to 365 days in jail, followed by three years felony probation and a $91,000 fine after pleading guilty to 43 felony counts of using paid recruiters to get clients  for his business.

Martinez had at least three recruiters who were paid from victims' insurance settlements.  The recruiters, also called cappers,  would prey on shaken accident victims at accident sites and hospitals.

The California Department of Insurance Auto Insurance Fraud Task Force, received information and documentation that indicated Martinez was using cappers. Bank records showed that more than $250,000 in checks were written to the alleged cappers between 2009 and 2012.

"The success of this case was based on the vigorous effort of the investigators at the Department of Insurance to thwart unethical activity committed by professionals in our community," said Deputy District Attorney of San Bernardino, Jim McGee.

"The California Department of Insurance has top notch investigators," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).  CSLEA represents nearly 7,000 law enforcement, public safety and consumer protection professionals who work for the State of California.  "They're not only thorough, they work extremely well with local prosecutors up and down the state to see their cases through to conviction and sentencing."

If you have been approached at the scene of a collision or hospital by individuals offering to refer you to a specific attorney, chiropractor, or body shop for repairs, you should avoid sharing any information with these illegal cappers or runners.

The recruiters in this case:

  • Israel Gonzales, 34, of Rancho Cucamonga, plead guilty to eight counts 750(a) IC.
  • Michael Melcher, 58 of Covina, plead guilty to two counts 750(a) IC.

750.  (a) Except as provided in Section 750.5, any person acting

individually or through his or her employees or agents, who engages

in the practice of processing, presenting, or negotiating claims,

including claims under policies of insurance, and who offers,

delivers, receives, or accepts any rebate, refund, commission, or

other consideration, whether in the form of money or otherwise, as

compensation or inducement to or from any person for the referral or

procurement of clients, cases, patients, or customers, is guilty of a


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