Feds charge Detroit collision shop owner with bribing cops in alleged insurance scheme
Detroit — Federal authorities for the first time have publicly named the man who allegedly bribed Detroit police officers in one of several alleged illegal towing schemes being investigated in Metro Detroit.
Danial Dabish, owner of Livernois Collision, was charged March 1 with mail fraud in a criminal information, which indicates a guilty plea is expected.
The U.S. District Court filing alleges Dabish “would submit inflated and fraudulent claims for automobile repairs purportedly performed at the shop to automotive insurance companies.”
The government further alleges in the four-page filing that Dabish bribed Detroit cops to funnel abandoned or stolen vehicles to his shop.
The March 1 charges were refiled by the U.S. Department of Justice; a criminal complained filed Jan. 24 contained allegations about four alleged schemes that weren't included in the March 1 document.
"Those earlier charges were dismissed; the refiled information has fewer charges," Dabish's attorney Steve Haney said. He declined further comment.
Three Detroit police sources told The Detroit News in 2017 that the alleged Livernois Collision scheme involved paying cops to route stolen vehicles with minimal damage to the shop. The vehicles would be stripped, and Livernois officials would then bill insurance companies to replace the parts, collect the money, and put the original parts back onto the cars.
According to the March 1 filing, "It was ... part of the scheme that the inflated, false and fraudulent claims for automotive repairs purportedly performed at the shop would contain materially false statements pertaining to the nature of the covered damages to the vehicles and the cost and nature of the replacement parts used in the repairs.
"It was further part of the scheme that, in processing these false claims, and to further the above-described scheme, Dabish sent documents to insurance companies using the U.S. Postal Service, and caused the insurance companies, to whom the false claims were made, to send payments, in the form of checks, by United States mail to the shop and their customers," the filing said.
"In order to initially get the vehicles subject to false claims into the shop, Dabish paid some Detroit Police Officers, including ... Deonne Dotson, money in exchange for their agreement to be influenced and rewarded in their official capacities as police officers to direct the towing of damaged or abandoned vehicles to the defendant's collision shop for repair," according to the filing.
Federal authorities allege that on April 23, 2014, Dabish "caused Auto-Owners Insurance Company to send, using the United States Postal Service, two checks in the amount of $3,273.64 to a vehicle owner, whose initials are L.S., who then brought the check to Dabish at his direction," the filing said. "The check represented payment for a fraudulently inflated insurance claim that Dabish had submitted pursuant to the scheme."
Dotson is scheduled to stand trial April 29. Five other officers who were part of the scheme pleaded guilty to extortion last year.
Livernois Collision, along with Detroit companies Sam's Tires and M&M Cars, were the plaintiffs in earlier federal lawsuits alleging officers in the now-disbanded COBRA stolen car task force conducted illegal raids on the businesses and their owners’ homes, improperly seized their property, and hurled anti-Arab slurs at them.
One of the lawsuits was filed against imprisoned towing magnate Gasper Fiore, Hamtramck and Highland Park, police officers in those cities, B&G Towing of Detroit and its owner Anthony Thomas. The suit alleges the cops launched false investigations that allowed the tow company to impound vehicles and charge exorbitant storage fees.
Although Thomas, not Fiore, is listed as the owner of B&G Towing, Haney said Fiore was the shadow owner of the company. In the lawsuit, Fiore is called a "principal" of B&G.