03/27/2007

Organized crime ring cracked in Detroit

By Ben Schmitt
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that 10 people have been charged in an auto insurance fraud ring that he likened to organized crime that generated millions of dollars.

Cox spoke to the news media at Somerset Auto Center on John R, near 8 Mile in Detroit, which he called the ring's epicenter.

As many as 12 auto shops in Detroit were used in the enterprise that generated millions of dollars, Cox said.

Cox said the suspects enhanced collision damage, sometimes with willing participants, to defraud various auto companies. Sometimes the suspects damanged cars or stole and later replaced airbags to report claims without awareness of car owners, he said.

Alleged ringleader Norman Dehko, 35, of Orchard Lake is charged with 40 felonies, Cox said.

His brother, Dickow Dehko, 31, of West Bloomfield, is charged with 34 felonies.

Their mother Latifa Dehko, 51, is charged with 17 felonies.

Charges range from racketeering and insurance fraud to forgery and conducting a criminal enterprise.

"Michigan's citizens are paying higher rates because of fraud and I am committed to fighting for lower insurance rates for Michigan citizens," Cox said.

Copyright 2007 Detroit Free Press

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