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Guilty: 3 staged OC car crash to collect insurance money

October 25, 2012 |  6:57 pm

Three Orange County residents were convicted and sentenced Thursday for their part in staging a 2008 auto accident and filing false insurance claims for injuries and vehicle damage that totaled more than $60,000, prosecutors said.

In all, prosecutors said five people were involved in the 2008 accident in a Garden Grove intersection. Of them, three -- Phuong Nhu Nguyen, 31; Hoia Van Nguyen, 60; and Tracy Phuong Nguyen, 53 -- pleaded guilty Thursday to felony insurance fraud, according to the Orange County district attorney's office. 

Hoia Van Nguyen also pleaded guilty to a felony count of grand theft, according to the statement.

Phuong Nhu Nguyen of Westminster was sentenced to three years of formal probation and a 90-day jail sentence that was stayed pending the completion of 240 hours of community service. Hoia Van Nguyen and Tracy Phuong Nguyen -- who are married and live in Huntington Beach -- were each sentenced to three years of formal probation and 120 days in jail.

Two others -- David Pham, 74, and Tony Nguyen, 56 -- pleaded guilty earlier and were sentenced to jail time and probation.

Prosecutors said that on a June evening in 2008, Tony Nguyen -- behind the wheel of a 1995 Nissan sedan, with Phuong Nguyen in the passenger seat -- pulled in front of a 1990 Nissan sedan, which was being driven by Tracy Nguyen and carried her husband and David Pham in the back seat.

Each driver purposefully drove their vehicle at a slow speed so that the two cars touched in the intersection, prosecutors said.

They pulled over and exchanged information, prosecutors said, and no authorities were called. Within days, all five filed insurance claims with Infinity Insurance and State Farm for more than $60,000 in bodily injuries and damage to the two vehicles. 

In multiple statements to one of the insurance companies, the two pairs claimed they didn't know the passengers of the other vehicle, according to prosecutors.

But a probe by the California Department of Insurance, prompted at Infinity's request, found that the five had all known each other and even lived together at various times in Huntington Beach. Phone records reviewed by investigators also showed that Hoia Nguyen and Tony Nguyen had been in contact numerous times in the month before the accident.

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-- Rick Rojas

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