Crime

Cal Fire captain from Morro Bay arrested for alleged insurance fraud

Neal Moriarty
Neal Moriarty California Department of Insurance

A Cal Fire captain from Morro Bay was arrested July 22 on suspicion of insurance fraud for allegedly conspiring with his insurance agent brother to file a bogus claim after hitting a deer while off-duty.

Neal Moriarty, 38, of Morro Bay, and Ross Moriarty, 42, of Los Osos, a licensed insurance agent, were arrested by Cal Fire officials and California Department of Insurance agents on multiple felony counts of insurance fraud.

The brothers allegedly submitted a fraudulent claim and provided false statements to an insurer in order to collect money following Neal Moriarty’s automobile accident, according to a state insurance department news release.

The department’s investigation revealed that the Cal Fire captain hit a deer while driving on Highway 101, causing significant damage to his personal vehicle, spokeswoman Lindsey Hart said Monday.

Moriarty was uninjured in the crash but also uninsured, the state agency said. While still at the scene of the accident, Neal Moriarty allegedly called his brother, who used his position as a licensed insurance agent to reinstate Neal Moriarty’s automobile insurance.

The brothers allegedly falsified the timeline of the accident and reported a fraudulent claim to the insurer for $13,709 to repair the damaged vehicle. Insurance investigators, suspicious of the claim, asked for phone records that Neal Moriarty failed to provide, the agency said. He withdrew his claim a month later.

Hart said Neal Moriarty was arrested by Cal Fire officials just after the end of his shift at or near the Ben Lomond Conservation Camp in Santa Cruz.

Ross Moriarty was arrested the same day in San Luis Obispo County.

Rich Sampson, spokesman for Cal Fire in San Mateo, confirmed that Neal Moriarty is a Cal Fire employee but would not elaborate on where he works. Sampson said the agency is cooperating with investigators and declined to comment on whether Neal Moriarty has been placed on leave.

Ross Moriarty is listed online as an insurance agent for Farmers Insurance. He was not in his Los Osos office when called Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Neal and Ross Moriarty were booked into the Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo county jails, respectively, and held on $120,000 bail each. As of Monday, neither was listed as in custody at either jail.

Both cases are being prosecuted by the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office, and both men are due in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for an Aug. 10 arraignment.

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