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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Three Men Arrested in Earthquake Repair Scheme

October 19, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Three men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud for allegedly overstating the amount of work done on San Fernando Valley homes damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Thom Mrozek of the U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday.

The three homes, in Northridge, Calabasas and Woodland Hills, were insured by Allstate Insurance Co.

Harry Miller, also known as Harry Booth, 54, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Richard Chambrone, 47, of Irvine; and Don Ames, 55, of Orange, were arrested Tuesday after being named in a grand jury indictment that identified two other men, Gene LaPorte and Tom Conrad, as defendants, Mrozek said.

According to the indictment, the men prepared "false and inflated construction estimates and engineering reports" for the homes, mostly for compaction grouting, a means of stabilizing house foundations.

Miller was an insurance adjuster, and the other men were engineers and contractors. The indictment alleges Miller used his position as an adjuster subcontracted by Allstate "to cause Allstate, and, in some cases homeowners insured by Allstate, to pay for nonexistent, unauthorized or grossly overbilled work for damaged homes."

LaPorte and Conrad have been summoned to be arraigned with the two other California men in Los Angeles Oct. 23, and Miller will be arraigned in Florida at an unspecified date, Mrozek said.

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