Two of three men accused of purposely causing accidents on Los Angeles County freeways — including some in which motorists were severely injured — to collect money from insurance companies pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assault with a deadly weapon and insurance fraud charges.
Eduardo Retana, 25, and Ausencio Gomez, 46, were charged Monday along with co-defendant Victor Valle-Diaz, 55, who is still awaiting arraignment. All three are Los Angeles residents.
The case stems from 15 crashes involving 21 victims, some of whom suffered severe injuries, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which alleges that insurance fraud companies were defrauded out of nearly $330,000.
Retana is charged with 11 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 10 counts of insurance fraud; Gomez is charged with 10 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and nine counts of insurance fraud; and Valle-Diaz is charged with eight counts of assault with a deadly weapon and four counts of insurance fraud.
“Purposefully causing automobile collisions can cause grave injuries or even death for the innocent victims of an automobile insurance scheme,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement announcing the charges.