The Racket Club

There's good money to be made in the game of insurance fraud. Maybe that's why some greedy people are so willing to hustle for clients, fake injuries, stage car accidents, and tell lies.

Rangel's attorney, Stanford Blake, says his client was merely "puffing, bragging" in his conversations with Rodriguez. "Maybe they weren't the smartest things to say," Blake allows, "but it doesn't make him guilty of a crime."

Nadia Valdes, who is defending Doris Blanco, says her client was simply doing what she was told. "She was just following orders," Valdes claims. "She didn't think she was doing anything wrong. She felt she was authorized to do what she did by the doctors. She's just a nice old lady."

Blanco isn't the only defendant who claims to have been duped. Richard Sharpstein, the attorney for Guido Alvarez, contends his client never diagnosed "Luis Acosta" as having a partial disability, and that the forms from the medical center, which purportedly carried the doctor's signature, were phony. "The evidence will show that he was being used and abused by someone and that he was not part of any conspiracy," Sharpstein argues. "I really don't know who is at the bottom of this."

No charges were brought against the elderly Dr. Octavio de la Osa or attorney Raul Delgado. Investigators say they have no evidence Delgado knew in advance that officials at the medical clinic would allegedly falsify reports.

The trial for the four defendants is scheduled for this spring.

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