FAIRFIELD — Auto body repair shop co-owner Armand Terence Eulano, sentenced for felony insurance fraud in a criminal case, faces a separate $612,056 civil judgement in the lawsuit filed by his former business partner – who contends in the suit that Eulano spent company funds on house payments, his children’s education, a three-day stay at a Trump International Hotel and buying a 2007 Ford Mustang.
Santiago Serrano, 49, said he learned in 2012 that Eulano wasn’t properly managing the G Collision auto body repair business they’d begun in Vallejo, primarily serving the Filipino community.
“I did not know this guy can do those kind of things,” Serrano said Thursday of the spending and what took place at the business.
“Impeccable honesty,” Serrano said. “I always used that word to him.”
Serrano said he always told Eulano not to cheat the customer or insurance companies.
“I forgot to tell him, ‘Do not cheat me,’ ” Serrano said.
Eulano, in the separate criminal case, was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution of about $40,000 to Farmers Insurance.
An investigation revealed damaged vehicles were patched with filler material and painted, rather than fitted with new replacement parts as paid for by Farmers, according to the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.
Eulano was sentenced July 10 in Solano County Superior Court after his earlier no-contest pleas to three felony counts of automobile insurance fraud, the District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
G Collision in Vallejo has since permanently closed.
Attorney Paul Wolf, who represented Eulano in the criminal case, said statements by the District Attorney’s Office about the sentencing and plea agreement in the case are correct. But Wolf said other details in the press release about the investigation involve matters Eulano did not admit to.
Most of the $40,000 in restitution involves costs of the investigation, Wolf said.
“This all happened years ago when Armand was first in the business,” the attorney said of his client’s work in auto body repair. “Armand’s never been arrested in his life. It’s unfortunate this happened.”
Eulano is sorry, he has made things right and didn’t do anything like this in his first 45 years, Wolf said.
The attorney did not represent Eulano in the civil case filed by Serrano. Wolf said he was not aware of the lawsuit and would be surprised if Eulano knew of the case that resulted in the default judgement.
The criminal case began when investigators from the Farmers Insurance Special Investigation Unit randomly re-inspected a vehicle serviced at G Collision and discovered that a vehicle body part had only been repaired, even though Farmers Insurance had paid G Collision for a new replacement part, the District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
Farmers Insurance randomly re-inspected 11 other vehicles it had recently paid G Collision to repair and discovered similar deviations in repairs on all of the vehicles. Many of the damaged vehicles were simply patched with filler material, such as Bondo, and painted, rather than fitted with new replacement parts, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The California Department of Insurance investigated the case and interviewed the vehicles’ owners, also victims of G Collision’s fraud, and all identified Eulano as the person who handled their Farmers Insurance claims at his business, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a felony complaint in October 2013 against Eulano, charging him with committing insurance fraud and grand theft against Farmers Insurance.
Judy Ycasas, the Solano County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said of issues involving the auto body repair business that, “This is pretty exceptional.”
“This took a lot of investigation,” she said. “A lot of time.”
The separate civil lawsuit filed by Serrano in Solano County Superior Court asserts that Eulano was paying employees in cash and had not gotten workers’ compensation insurance.
Serrano, who has a car repair business in San Mateo County and has been in the business for 12 years, said he doesn’t expect to collect the $612,056 the court awarded.
“Charge it to experience,” Serrano said.
Serrano said that he’s very sorry for Eulano’s family – and that Eulano has never apologized for what took place.
“The sadness of it is,” Serrano said, “he never said, ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.