Washington State Officials to Request $1.6 Million Restitution from Perkins
July 15, 2011
Officials in the Washington Insurance Commissioner’s office have announced that they will seek restitution totaling $1.6 million in the case of Michael Perkins, the owner of Autoglass Express Inc. and Premier Auto Glass LLC in Burien, Wash. Perkins recently was sentenced to nine months jail (in a work release facility), 240 hours community service and restitution, but the amount of restitution sought was not released at the time of sentencing.
The final amount of restitution owed will be decided at an upcoming hearing in the case, in which Perkins is alleged to have “overbilled insurers” in more than 4,840 cases over the course of four years. Prosecutors allege that Perkins’ company “told insurers that higher-priced original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) glass had been installed, when workers were actually installing lower-cost aftermarket glass.”
“In this case, the overbilling went on for years,” says Washington insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler.
According to the latest statement from Kreidler’s office, the investigation came about after LYNX Services, which processes glass claims for State Farm as a third-party administrator (TPA), alerted the insurer that “a random search of [its] database turned up an unusually high percentage of OEM glass being installed in cars worked on by Autoglass Express.”
“State Farm investigators began contacting policyholders, inspecting the recently-installed glass, and comparing it to the bills,” writes the insurance commissioner’s office.
State Farm took the case to the state, which ultimately seized more than 50 boxes of invoices and hard drives from Perkins’ companies, according to state officials.
The state insurance commissioner’s office has released a few examples of the overbilling, such as a 1998 Saturn station wagon case in which the insurer was billed $317 for a backlite that actually cost $150 at a wrecking yard; a 2003 Lexus job in which the insurer was billed $1,082.06 for a windshield that actually cost $144.83; a 1991 Subaru Legacy job in which the insurer was billed $199.95 for a front sidelite that cost $65 from a wrecking yard; and a 1999 Lexus RX300 job in which the insurer was billed $1,167.34 for a windshield that actually cost $56.05.
Perkins pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree theft in April. The insurers involved in the criminal case included State Farm, MetLife and Allstate, which filed its own civil suit against Perkins, his wife, Trena, and their companies earlier this year. Allstate has been awarded a $726,00 judgment in that case.
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