Former Louisiana Citizens CEO Gets 30-Month Jail Sentence

April 26, 2010

The former chief executive at Louisiana’s state-run insurance company has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for improperly spending more than $29,000 of the company’s money on lavish meals, trips, sports tickets and his daughter’s prom party.

Terry Lisotta, former CEO of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., was immediately handcuffed and taken to jail after receiving the sentence and being ordered to pay back $25,557.

“This is a very sad case. It is a waste. Everybody knows the damage it has done to your career. Nobody knows that more than you,” said state District Judge Richard Anderson.

Anderson asked Lisotta,” I’ve got a question for you: Was it worth it?”

“No, sir,” Lisotta replied.

Lisotta, 54, of Metairie, pleaded guilty last month to one count of theft by fraud of more than $500.

He had been indicted on 14 counts after state audits from 2003 to 2006 claimed Lisotta racked up thousands of dollars in questionable expenses not connected to running Citizens, including reimbursements for conferences he did not attend or did not pay for, food and drinks for his daughter’s prom party, LSU football tickets, first-class trips and golf clubs.

The spending on the LSU tickets and golf clubs were already reimbursed so they were backed out of the repayment ordered by the judge, said Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell, the chief prosecutor on the case.

Lisotta’s lawyer, David Courcelle, said he’s considering an appeal of both the length of the sentence and the amount of restitution ordered. But he also said Lisotta was ready to serve his sentence and move on with his life.

“He’s certainly remorseful and prepared to do his time and pay his debt to society and come back and be a productive member of society,” Courcelle said.

The defense attorney said Lisotta would be eligible for parole after serving 10 months of his sentence. He had faced a maximum sentence of up to 10 years for the crime, Caldwell said.

Caldwell has said the misuse of Citizens’ money was particularly egregious because the company is financially backed by fees charged to homeowners for their insurance.

Before Lisotta’s guilty plea, Courcelle had argued Lisotta’s spending occurred with approval and knowledge of the governing boards of Citizens and two other firms he worked for: Louisiana Automobile Insurance Plan, the state’s high-risk auto pool; and the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana, which managed Citizens and LAIP.

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