‘Ghost Agents’ Surface in Ohio Scheme

March 7, 2005

An Ohio insurance district sales manager in Coshocton County, Peter J. Vasilakos, 52, and Steven L. Baker, 55, also of Coshocton, were sentenced in United States District Court recently for their reported roles in a scheme to set up “ghost agents” in order to collect insurance commissions and other payments.

Vasilakos was sentenced to 66 months imprisonment for conspiracy to launder money and 50 months imprisonment for each of ten other counts. The sentences will be served concurrently. Vasilakos was also fined $12,500. He will also serve three years of supervised release after his prison term. During his period of supervised release, he is prohibited from selling insurance.

Baker received a sentence of 15 months on each of eight counts to be served concurrently. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison time.

Gregory Lockhart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Cromwell Handy, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation announced the sentences handed down by United States District Judge Gregory Frost.

A United States District Court jury convicted Vasilakos, Baker and Debbie K. Lent, 51, of Cambridge on June 9, 2004. The jury convicted Vasilakos and Lent of eight counts of mail fraud, one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, and conspiracy to launder money. The jury convicted Baker of eight counts of mail fraud.

According to testimony presented during the trial, Vasilakos was a district sales manager in southeastern Ohio for a Chicago-based insurance company. Lent was his business partner. Baker kept the books.

In 1998, Vasilakos and the others reportedly set up a scheme to keep agents on the roles as active sales agents even though they were no longer selling policies for the company. They created false reports, forged documents and signatures, and mailed them to the insurance company in Chicago.

y reporting these “ghost agents”, the conspirators continued to receive commission checks, overrides, renewals and bonuses issued by the company as the result of the reported sales activity.
Lent was sentenced on Jan. 27, 2005 to 57 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $12,500 for her role in the scheme.

Vasilakos and Baker are still on bond, but were ordered to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on April 18, 2005 to begin serving their sentences.

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