Former Calif. Agents Plead Guilty to Theft, Conspiracy

August 13, 2003

Two former insurance agents have been sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to pay $322,000 in restitution after an investigation by the California Department of Insurance revealed the two had allegedly stolen insurance premiums from more that 500 fraudulent auto insurance policies they sold.

Manuel Antonio Mendez, 37, and Jeffrey Warren Ferguson, 38, pled guilty to eight counts of grand theft and conspiracy in the case. Mendez was sentenced to six years in prison and Ferguson must serve one year in county jail.

According to investigators, between March 1999 and Aug. 2001, Mendez and Ferguson allegedly sold the fraudulent insurance policies to unsuspecting consumers, primarily in the Hispanic community. The men collected premiums but reportedly never submitted them to insurance carriers, retaining the money for themselves. Their illegal activities left hundreds of victims without valid automobile coverage and exposed California drivers to the threat of collisions with uninsured motorists and the related financial consequences.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case, which unearthed $322,210 in fraudulent premiums paid by the victims. To date, Ferguson has paid $100,000.00 in restitution.

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