News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: January 29, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Long Beach Insurance Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Grand Theft
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that Matthew Shawn Bissell, 39, of Long Beach pled guilty Jan. 26 to one felony count of grand theft in the Orange County Superior Court. He was then sentenced to five years probation, ordered to pay $43,000 in restitution to seven victims and perform 150 hours of community service.
"Insurance, like every business, operates on trust and when an agent or broker breaks that trust by committing a crime, it not only hurts that person but puts all of us potentially at risk," Commissioner Poizner said. "Californians can trust that our department, along with our local law enforcement partners such as the Orange County district attorney's office, will catch those who commit these crimes and punish them."
Bissell owned an operated Bissell Insurance Services in Los Alamitos and sold a variety of insurance policies including general liability, property and commercial. A California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigation alleged that Bissell took premium checks from businesses under the pretense of securing coverage but failed to do so and deposited the checks into his personal bank account. The alleged crime exposed the business owners to extreme financial risk.
Between Jan. 2005 and Jan. 2007, CDI received numerous complaints about Bissell. Bissell also allegedly accepted premium refund checks and failed to forward the funds to the businesses. Bissell also allegedly issued bogus certificates of insurance.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office prosecuted the case.
Bissell's fire and casualty insurance license expired Sept. 30, 2006 and was not renewed.
Commissioner Poizner oversees 16 CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Approximately 2,000 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's enforcement division since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
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