Calif. Agent Arraigned on Certificates Scam

January 5, 2005

A Stockton insurance agent allegedly working with a revoked license was arraigned Tuesday in San Joaquin County Court on 111 felony counts following an eight-month investigation by the California Department of Insurance Investigation Division and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Unit.

Cordell Bunton, 56, was arrested and charged with felonies that include grand theft, issuing bogus Certificates of Insurance, using a computer to defraud victims, and embezzlement. He was also charged with nine non-felony counts. Bail was set at $250,000.

“In any case, the criminal actions of an agent cause terrible harm to the policyholders and other victims,” said Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi. “But this particular case, in which victims included the NAACP, a school district and a church, hurt entire communities. Our investigators worked with local authorities to help put a stop to this before more victims suffered a loss.”

Bunton allegedly issued bogus insurance certificates, failed to remit premiums to insurers, and failed to place coverage for policyholders with insurers, putting at risk organizations that relied on the insurance to cover special events, general liability policies, personal property protection and homeowner’s insurance.

The Stockton church only discovered it had no coverage after a storm damaged the church roof. When it filed a claim, church leaders found that the policy was bogus and they would be responsible for paying over $10,000 in damages to replace the church roof.

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