Louisiana State Police have opened a criminal investigation into efforts by McClenny Moseley & Associates and Apex Roofing to solicit customers after receiving a complaint by the state Insurance Department about “suspected fraudulent actions” related to insurance claims.
An initial complaint report dated Oct. 17 shows that State Police Officer Jeffrey Theriot Jr. is investigating possible insurance fraud, forgery, bank fraud, monetary instrument abuse and unlawful payments and solicitation of employment for legal practitioners. State Police released a copy of the report in response to a public records request by investigative reporter David Hammer with WWL-TV in New Orleans.
Theriot reported that he met with members of the Insurance Department’s Fraud Division on Oct. 6. That was five months after Insurance Commissioner James Donelon levied $2 million in fines against MMA, founding partners John Zachary Moseley and James McClenny and New Orleans office managing attorney R. William Huye.
“During their review, the LDI identified 43 cases involving MMA and Apex, out of which they spoke to 25 victims who confirmed they never hired MMA to represent them,” the report says. “Furthermore, many of these victims/individuals have yet to receive the funds they should have been entitled to and, to this day, have not been made whole.”
MMA is accused of using both employees of Apex and a marketing firm called Velawcity to sign up homeowners with hurricane damage claims as clients. Huye admitted during court documents that he represented to insurers that he represented homeowners to induce them to settle cases, when in fact he represented Apex Roofing, a restoration contractor.
A civil lawsuit against Apex accuses the company of improperly soliciting clients and making misrepresentations to prospective customers in an effort to obtain a share of their insurance proceeds. The Alabama-based restoration company does business throughout the United States.
New Orleans attorney Peter J. Butler, who represents Apex in the lawsuit, said his client did not commit any crimes. “Apex did not violate any laws and I believe after a full investigation, with a complete presentation of all relevant facts, that will be clear,” he said.
Theriot’s report states that he opened a criminal investigation after a “preliminary review” of documents. He said the Insurance Department credited New Orleans insurance defense attorney Matthew Monson for discovering “irregularities in MMA’s practices” and learned “they were deceiving individuals and stealing claim settlement funds.”
Curiously, the State Police sent an investigator to interview Insurance Department fraud investigators three weeks after Monson spoke about the MMA scheme during an insurance fraud conference at State Police headquarters.
The lack of a criminal investigation became a campaign issue in the Louisiana governor’s race. State Treasurer John Schroder, a candidate running against Attorney General Jeff Landry in the Republican primary, accused Landry of “cronyism” because he had accepted a $5,000 campaign contribution from Moseley in April, the maximum allowed by law.
Landry went on to win the primary and the governor’s seat by receiving more than 50% of the total vote in the Oct. 15 primary election.
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