SANTA ANA, Calif. - A mechanic featured on a Speed Channel reality TV show was among 53 people charged with auto-insurance fraud after a months-long undercover sting, officials said yesterday.

Prosecutors said that undercover agents asked mechanics at auto body shops if damage could be fixed under the same insurance claim even though some of the damage was from a previous incident.

About a third of those questioned agreed to make the repairs, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

Richard Evans, who has appeared on the Speed Channel reality show "Chop Cut Rebuild," posted bail after he and other defendants were arrested earlier this week.

He said that he and other mechanics were wrongly targeted and that he was arrested for simply writing a repair estimate at his shop in Huntington Beach.

The probe consisted of 152 undercover operations at Orange County shops from January to May.

Prosecutors say that investigators targeted shops that customers have made complaints about in the past three years.