News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: June 23, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Former Insurance Agent From Covina Sentenced for Grand Theft
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today former life insurance agent James Alfred Morris, 66, of Covina, was sentenced on June 10 to five years formal probation, ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay $11,034.32 in restitution, plus $11,000 in reimbursements to the Department of Insurance for investigative costs for submitting fraudulent life insurance applications and collecting more than $10,000 in ill gotten commissions.
"If you want to sell insurance in California, you must follow the law," said Commissioner Poizner. "If you break the law - and your clients' trust - you will face fines, probation and your license will be revoked."
From April 2007 through November 2007, Morris stole the identity of a former employee and licensed agent in order to sell life insurance policies and collect commissions from a life insurance company. Morris used his former employee's identity to submit seven applications for life insurance policies, which allowed him to collect more than $11,000 in commission from the insurance company. The names used on the seven applications were either previous applicant names or the names of relatives from prior applications submitted by Morris.
Morris submitted the bogus applications along with checks from the victims to the insurance company in order to receive a commission. The checks Morris submitted from the victims were actually issued years earlier on prior applications and in some instances, the checks were altered. The commission payments were payable to Morris' former employee, but were made via a direct deposit into a bank account that Morris controlled and operated. The former employee was unaware of this activity.
This scheme was brought to the attention of CDI when the insurance company filed a complaint against Morris' former employee alleging that he owed them money for return commissions that were given to him based on fraudulent life insurance applications. The Department's investigation determined that it was Morris who had received the commissions from the company while using the identity of his former employee. Morris was convicted on Dec. 17 on one count of grand theft, a felony.
Morris' insurance license was revoked by CDI in 2003 for similar types of fraud violations.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Nearly 2,800 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by CDI since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other three year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
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