Fraud charged where agent takes premiums but issues no policies

On Behalf of Sanchez Burke, LLC

A licensed professional may be hit with two proceedings at one time where criminal activity is alleged. There may be a license suspension proceeding by a state administrative agency along with a simultaneous criminal prosecution in state court. That’s happening with respect to a Louisiana insurance agent who is accused of fraud by the Louisiana Department of Insurance Fraud Division, including misappropriation of insurance premium funds and dishonest business practices.

She has also been arrested by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office for theft, 11 counts of forgery and unauthorized use of an access device. The administrative proceedings contain a summary suspension of her license and a cease and desist order prohibiting her from all insurance agent activities. She has 30 days to request an administrative appeal or the actions become final.

She was a property/casualty insurance agent with an insurance agency. She is alleged to have misappropriated thousands of dollars in insurance premiums and provided bogus policies to clients. Allegedly, clients thought they had insurance but didn’t because she did not remit the premiums to the insurance companies, but instead transferred the funds to her personal account.

An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to defend both the white collar crime charges and the administrative license suspension action. If the criminal defense attorney does not handle administrative hearings, then separate counsel may be necessary. However, the evidence may be overwhelming enough that the accused will not contest the license proceeding. In that event, she’ll appear only in the criminal case where a defense must be entered or a guilty plea negotiated.

Experienced criminal defense counsel in Louisiana may find it feasible to negotiate for probation based on full restitution to the victims and an early guilty plea to reduced criminal fraud charges. If this is the suspect’s first offense, it may be possible to obtain a sentence of probation in a case where incarceration would serve no purpose other than to eat up taxpayer funds. The accused could also guarantee to never sell insurance again as part of the deal. Of course, if the suspect has a viable defense to the charges, her strategy would likely be to plead not guilty and present her defense.

Source: Insurance Journal, Louisiana Insurance Agent Arrested, No author, Sept. 23, 2013

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