Hakimian on Trial by Jury in Oakland, Calif.; Glass Emporium Owner is Accused of Wire Fraud and Harboring Illegal Aliens, Among Other Charges
March 10, 2010

The jury trial of Mehrdad "Tony" Hakimian, owner of Glass Emporium, a nationwide chain that is based in Oakland, Calif., continues this week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, Calif. Proceedings in the trial began on February 22.

Hakimian is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; harboring illegal aliens; obstruction of justice; conspiracy to commit visa fraud; and visa fraud. He currently is out on bail.

Though the defense's witness list is not available, that of the United States, which brought the charges against Hakimian, includes a range of former Glass Emporium employees, including Aldy Antonio, who previously pled guilty to a felony offense related to the fraud charges and was responsible for billing insurance companies while employed at Glass Emporium's headquarters since 2001. According to a previously submitted witness list, Antonio was expected to testify "that Hakimian consistently directed him to overcharge insurance companies by changing the invoices the corporate office received from the field stores and billing for more expensive windshields, and adding other charges such as mouldings." Antonio, who was called to the stand on March 2, also was expected to testify about his involvement in the charges regarding the harboring of illegal aliens. According to court documents, Hakimian is charged with employing both Antonio, and his wife, Luvziminda Yago, despite the fact that they were illegal aliens, but also advising them to work from home "to avoid the immigration service from coming to the headquarters and discovering that they were wrongfully employed by Glass Emporium."

Bobby Guinto, a fellow Glass Emporium employee who also was charged previously and pled guilty to a felony, also was scheduled to testify "that he inflated invoices at the corporate headquarters."

The plaintiffs also list a range of employees from across the United States who, according to court documents, were expected to testify that they were advised to overbill insurance companies. For example, one employee, Sokchea Neo, who handled insurance billing based on invoices from local stores, was to testify that, when insurance company invoices needed to be changed, she was told "to pick part numbers with the highest prices."

The witness list also includes several investigators from insurance companies, including State Farm and Alpha Insurance. The State Farm representative was expected to testify about the company's own audit of Glass Emporium's claims, and the Alpha rep was expected to testify "about his investigation of suspected insurance fraud committed by Glass Emporium."

LYNX Services' director of operations Paul McFarland also was to testify about how claims are taken, submitted and transmitted for payment, while Safelite Solutions director of contract administration Tom Reid also was to testify about "Safelite's dealings with Glass Emporium."

Several consumers also appear on the witness list, both of whom claim they were inappropriately billed for more expensive parts than were actually installed.

The 28-page exhibit list contains approximately 700 receipts, invoices, work orders and electronic data images for bills submitted to insurers by Glass Emporium.

The trial was originally supposed to be held last September, but has undergone several delays.

The trial began more than two weeks ago, on February 22.

Stay tuned to www.glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine for more information as it becomes available.

CLICK HERE for full text of witness list.

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