2 SUSPECTS INDICTED IN QUAKE FRAUD CASE.
On the eve of the third anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced indictments against two officials of a Van Nuys company in the largest fraud case stemming from the temblor.
Irwin Bransky, president and chief executive of Kenfil Distribution Inc., which sells software; and Nelson Landman, vice president, were indicted on eight counts of mail fraud charges Thursday. They face a maximum jail sentence of 40 years and a maximum fine of $2 million each, authorities said.
The arraignment is set for February.
``Out of the earthquake, this is the biggest prosecution we've had,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Dyer.
Bransky's attorney did not return calls for comment. Landman could not be reached for comment.
Over a four-month period after the quake, both men coordinated the destruction of software the company couldn't sell to major retailers, federal authorities contend.
Kenfil had been facing financial difficulties, and inventory was piling up at two Van Nuys warehouses. It also was in danger of losing its biggest account, Dyer said.
The earthquake caused minor damage to the main warehouse, but software was merely knocked down from shelves, authorities said.
Bransky instructed Landman and others to further damage the software so they could be included in an insurance claim for RLI Insurance Co., authorities said. Kenfil did not submit a claim to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
At Landman's supervision, employees were told to jump on software packages and bend them with their hands, the indictment said.
Both men also ordered employees to transfer obsolete software from a different warehouse to be destroyed, authorities said.
Kenfil submitted an insurance claim of $5 million, of which it got $840,000 before the fraud was discovered, according to the prosecutor.
Authorities found out about the fraud from employees, Dyer said.
Kenfil since has been taken over by a different company.
Bransky, 45, formerly lived in Van Nuys but now lives outside California. Landman, 59, lived in the City of Industry at the time of the earthquake. He now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Since March 1994, more than 60 people have been convicted of crimes ranging from submitting false FEMA claims to fraudulent disaster business loan applications to the Small Business Administration.
Prosecutions included FEMA inspectors who submitted false inspection reports and people who illegally sold food stamps given out for disaster relief.
Defendants were sentenced to as much as 6-1/2 years in prison, and fines total more than $3 million.
Others who have improperly received payments voluntarily returned more than $16 million in FEMA money after the prosecutions began, authorities said.
Also on Thursday, a Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner sentenced a Granada Hills landlord to community service and probation for swindling tenants who moved into one of his homes following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
Janos Dub, 46, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor grand theft, but Los Angeles city prosecutors contend the Oxnard resident overcharged the tenants by $5,918, demanding additional rent money from February 1994 to April 1995.
The tenants, a married couple, moved into the Granada Hills rental home after their apartment was damaged in the quake and were receiving emergency federal housing assistance.
Housing authority officials learned of the illegal side payments after the tenants told a legal outfit they could no longer afford to meet Dub's rent demands.
Dub, who is also known as John Dub and John Friend, was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and placed on three years probation.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 17, 1997|
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