News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: February 12, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Arrest of Bakersfield Insurance Agent on Grand Theft, Embezzlement and Perjury Charges
California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that Albert Ricardo Prince, 53, of Bakersfield, was arrested and charged with eight felonies that include one count of grand theft, two counts of embezzlement, three counts of concealing insurance information and one count each of perjury and offering false documents for filing. He was arraigned Feb. 9 and his preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 25, 2010 in Kern County Superior Court.
"When agents commit these types of crimes it devalues the entire industry and makes it harder on legitimate agents to conduct business," Commissioner Poizner said. "We will catch and prosecute those people who choose to prey on unsuspecting consumers in order to protect those consumers and the respectable agents providing a valuable service here in California."
A three-year California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigation alleges that between March 2006 and Sept. 30, 2009 Prince accepted more than $400,000 from clients to pay premiums for homeowners' insurance, commercial liability insurance and performance (construction) bonds and misappropriated the premiums for his own personal use. Prince, who owned Prince Insurance Agency, failed to place coverage with insurers and knowingly prepared fraudulent certificates of insurance, leading his clients to believe they were covered. The CDI investigation also alleges that Prince knowingly obtained fraudulent performance bonds from a bogus off-shore surety company, exposing his clients and numerous governmental agencies to uninsured losses.
A search warrant issued by the Kern County Superior Court was served on Prince's business office and home on July 15, 2009. Evidence obtained from the search warrant revealed additional victims of Prince's allegedly fraudulent insurance transactions.
On Sept. 3, 2009, CDI suspended Prince's license and prohibited him from conducting any type of business related to insurance, including the collection of premiums. On Oct. 13, 2009, Prince voluntarily surrendered his insurance license to CDI Investigators.
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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