Freeman Orders Conservatorship For Agency

July 24, 2003

Former Oklahoma County District Court Judge Leamon Freeman ordered increased supervision by the Oklahoma Insurance Department over a Bethany insurance agency accused of deceiving its clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Freeman was acting as a hearing examiner on behalf of the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

Aviation Insurance Group Agency, Inc. earlier was placed into supervision following accusations of hiding money from people who bought insurance through the agency even though they were due refunds that had been paid by the insurance companies it represented. Freeman’s order places the agency in conservatorship.

In May, Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher issued the initial supervision order, allowing for oversight of Aviation Insurance Group. Freeman’s order allows Fisher’s office to effectively run the agency, including taking over all accounts necessary for day-to-day operations.

A representative of Fisher’s office testified at the hearing conducted by Freeman that since July 8, repeated calls to the agency’s owner asking her to sign payroll and other checks have allegedly gone unanswered. In fact, Aviation Insurance Group officials reportedly have sued an Oklahoma City bank for honoring a request by Fisher’s office to cover payroll checks issued July 11.

Testimony at the hearing reportedly indicated Shirley Porter-Hart, president of Aviation Insurance Group, has been unable to sign the payroll checks due to family illness.

“While I certainly sympathize with Mrs. Porter-Hart over her mother’s grave illness,” Fisher said, “she claims she hasn’t time to sign payroll checks because of her mother’s illness, but she has had time to file lawsuits against her bank for honoring the checks that were issued.”

In making his ruling, Freeman reportedly found public welfare would be jeopardized by waiting until an already-scheduled August 28 hearing on the agency’s status. In addition to payroll checks, Porter-Hart has reportedly not signed checks forwarding premium money to insurance companies on behalf of their clients.

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