Fraud. Photo credit:
Fraud. Photo credit:

A woman who was acquitted just over two years ago of strangling an aspiring model in Santa Monica was named in a grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday that charges her and 14 others in connection with what prosecutors say was one of the largest insurance fraud scams in California history.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin ordered Kelly Park, 49, to remain jailed in lieu of $18.5 million bail while awaiting a hearing Sept. 25.

Park was arrested at 10:40 a.m. Monday by Los Angeles County District Attorney investigators and has been behind bars since then, according to jail records.

Park was acquitted in June 2013 of first-degree murder and second-degree murder for the March 15, 2008, killing of Juliana Redding, who had once appeared in Maxim magazine.

The Thousand Oaks woman — who appeared emotional in court during her latest hearing — was described by prosecutors as the office manager and personal assistant for Dr. Munir Uwaydah, the 49-year-old owner of Frontline Medical and the alleged mastermind of the fraud.

Redding was killed five days after her father pulled out of a potential business deal with Uwaydah, and prosecutors in Park’s murder case contended that Uwaydah described Park as a “female James Bond.”

Uwaydah was arrested last Wednesday in Germany and is awaiting extradition to the United States in connection with a grand jury indictment naming him as a defendant, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Today, we put an end to the illegal activities of an organized criminal enterprise that was responsible for one of the largest insurance fraud scams in California’s history,” said District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

“Although the patient victims sustained physical harm, we who pay higher premiums for health care suffer economic harm when scams are allowed to continue unchecked. With this case, we send a clear message that we will continue our mission to protect the community by pursuing criminals who commit fraud in Los Angeles County.”

Along with Park and Uwaydah, 13 others were named in grand jury indictments — 11 in one returned Feb. 25 and the other four in a grand jury indictment returned Aug. 26.

The indictments had remained unsealed until most of the defendants, including Park and Uwaydah’s personal attorney, Tatiana Torres Arnold, 45, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty.

The indictment involving Park, Uwaydah and nine others charges them with conspiracy, insurance fraud, aggravated mayhem and unlawful client or patient referral.

Prosecutors allege that attorneys and marketers were paid to refer patients, and that nearly two-dozen patients were allegedly duped into having surgical procedures in the belief that they would be done by Uwaydah when the procedures were performed by a physician’s assistant who never attended medical school.

The indictment alleges that insurance companies were billed as if Uwaydah had performed the surgeries and that MRIs and insurance authorization reports were routinely altered to justify surgeries and that some surgeries were done without medical justification.

The second indictment includes charges of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, money laundering, illegal patient referrals and filing false tax returns.

The defendants are due back in court for a hearing Sept. 25 before Judge Kathleen Kennedy, the judge who presided over Park’s murder trial.

The other 12 defendants were identified by the District Attorney’s Office as:

  • Paul Turley, 52, of Granada Hills, a chiropractor and Uwaydah’s business partner.
  • Maria Turley, 48, of Granada Hills, Uwaydah’s director of surgery and Paul Turley’s wife.
  • Marisa Schermbeck-Nelson, 38, of Redondo Beach, Uwaydah’s personal assistant.
  • Peter Nelson, 44, of Redondo Beach, Uwaydah’s physician assistant and Marisa Schermbeck-Nelson’s husband.
  • David Johnson, 80, of Corona, a doctor who worked for Frontline.
  • Leticia Alvarez Lemus, 38, of Corona, office manager for Frontline.
  • Jeff Stevens, 64, of Playa Del Rey, Uwaydah’s business associate.
  • Wendee Luke, 41, of Brea, Uwaydah’s office manager for several of his companies.
  • Ron Case, 39, of Camarillo, billing manager for Frontline.
  • Terry Luke, 70, of Brea, who held various positions for Uwaydah’s companies.
  • Tony Folgar, 57, of Sylmar, a paralegal for a law firm.
  • Yolanda Groscost, 49, of Fountain Valley, the owner of YDG Marketing, a marketing firm.

Deputy District Attorney Dayan Mathai told Brandlin that the District Attorney’s Office objected to attorney and former prosecutor Alan Jackson — who had handled the District Attorney’s murder case against Park for a time — representing one of the defendants. The judge said that matter can be dealt with by Kennedy at the hearing next week.

— City News Service

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