A Nebraska insurance agent and church pastor will spend 15 weekends in jail and pay $63,443.77 in restitution for filing false insurance claims.
Codie D. Malesker, a pastor and board member of the Faith Community Tabernacle and operator of the Malesker Agency in Hastings, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud. Federal court records show that US District Court Judge John M. Gerrard on Friday sentenced him to five years probation and 30 days in jail, to be served in two-day increments on the weekends.
Malesker was an agent for the Midwest General Agency in Lincoln, which assigned him as the producer for Malesker Agency in Hastings. He was also a partner with Shaun Peck Family Construction LLC.
Federal prosecutors say that Malesker defrauded insurers four times by filing false insurance claims for alleged damage and losses to the church and the agency.
The scheme started in 2013, when Malesker brokered an insurance policy for his church through The Hartford’s Sentinel Insurance Co., according to an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Three years later, he filed a claim stating that the church has been damaged in a July 6, 2016 storm and emailed contractor and subcontractor invoices to the insurer.
Malesker issued $49,088.30 in checks from Faith Community Tabernacle’s bank account to Shaun Peck Construction and diverted $19,238.07 of that to his personal accounts, the indictment says. He also transferred $29,293.24 from the church’s bank account to his own bank account.
In April 2016, Malesker filed a claim with Sentinel stating that $5,125 in cash premiums had been stolen from his insurance agency’s office. He submitted receipts, which were later determined to be fraudulent. Sentinel paid $5,125 on the claim.
Malester brokered a new insurance policy for his agency through Tri-State Insurance Co. of Minnesota in October 2016. The same month, he filed a claim reporting that $13,388 in cash paid for insurance premiums and $18,723 in personal property were stolen. The insurer paid $31,648.77.
In August 2016, Malesker obtained a policy for his church through Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co. On Nov. 7, 2015, he filed two claims: One reported that $13,388 in cash church donations and $18,723.11 in personal property has been stolen from his office at the Malesker Agency. The second claim reported that cash donations and property were stolen from the church basement.
Brotherhood paid the church $7,500 on the first claim and $5,352.59 on the second. Malesker wrote a check on the church’s account to Malesker agency for $7,000.
Prosecutors say total losses amounted to $76,296.48. The court ordered less restitution that that amount because Malesker had already repaid Brotherhood for its losses.
The US Attorney’s Office dropped four fraud counts after Malesker agreed in September to plead guilty to a single count of insurance fraud. The office had recommended that Malesker be sentenced to eight months in prison, which prosecutors said was the minimum amount suggested by federal sentencing guidelines.
But Malesker filed a motion in October requesting a variance that would allow a more lenient sentence. According to the statement, he is 47 years old and was scheduled for a surgery last month to correct a heart ablation. Malesker said he already paid $21,779.41 in restitution and has no previous criminal record.
The court granted the variance on Friday, just before sentencing Malesker to probation and 15 weekends in jail.
Assistant U.S Attorney Sean Lynch refused to comment on the sentence.
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