Calif. Broker Pleads No Contest to Premium Theft

May 14, 2006

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced the no contest plea for insurance broker Alicia Lavendier, 44, for one count of grand theft and one count of insurance premium theft.

Lavendier pled no contest on April 21, 2006. The conviction was the result of an investigation by the California Department of Insurance’s (CDI) Investigation Division, Valencia Regional Office.

The investigation began in March 2005 after the CDI received notice that Lavendier’s certification to submit business to California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) had been revoked effective February 25, 2005. The revocation of her certification was due to the fact a Peer Review Committee found Lavendier to have committed a number of violations which included exposing her clients to the dangers of an uninsured loss because of her failure to submit their insurance applications to CAARP on time.

The CDI’s investigation showed Lavendier collected insurance premiums in 2003-2004 from her clients but failed to provide coverage, according to Garamendi. CDI said that in three instances she issued bogus insurance policies and I.D. cards, misleading her clients to believe they were insured. Lavendier’s fraudulent actions caused two of her clients to sustain an uninsured loss. She embezzled $2,476.70 in premiums, according to CDI.

The case was referred to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office in July 2005 and charges were filed against Lavendier on February 15, 2006. For both counts, the sentence was suspended and Lavendier was placed on three years’ summary probation with the following terms and conditions: Serve 60 days in county jail or perform 45 days of CalTrans or 450 hours of community service. Lavendier was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $1,892.70 to three of her clients.

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