Miami-Dade public adjuster arrested on federal arson charges

 

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

A Miami-Dade public adjuster was arrested Friday on charges of conspiring to burn down at least three houses to bilk more than $2.3 million from insurance companies for the alleged arsons.

Jorge Fausto Espinosa Sr., charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and using fire to commit a felony, had his first appearance in Miami federal court Friday.

Espinosa is accused of conspiring with another Miami-Dade man, Felipe Ruiz, who was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for committing both insurance and Medicare fraud.

Ruiz was assisted by Espinosa in setting fire to Ruiz’s home and filing a fraudulent insurance claim, according to federal prosecutor Ron Davidson. An insurance company paid out $1.4 million on Ruiz’s false claim, he said.

The criminal cases were built upon cooperation from a convicted Medicare fraud offender, Jose Luis Perez.

Perez also helped prosecutors develop a major money-laundering case against convicted check-cashing store owner Oscar Sanchez. He was involved in a ring that laundered tens of millions of dollars that ended up in the Cuban banking system.

On Friday, in exchange for the help, Davidson filed a motion to reduce Perez’s 13-year prison sentence to about nine years.

Espinosa is the father of former Miami-Dade police officer Jorge A. Espinosa, who drew scrutiny in 2004 after he shot and killed an unarmed teenaged burglar. He wasn't charged in that controversial case but resigned and took up work as a licensed public adjuster.

In 2010, the younger Espinosa was charged by state prosecutors with theft, fraud and other schemes, including allegedly pumping up claims by tens of thousands of dollars. The case is still open.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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