Espanola, N.M., Agent Sentenced for Embezzlement

January 11, 2007

An Espanola, N.M., insurance agent accused of bilking clients out of thousands of dollars has been put on probation for three years and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

Dennis O’Brien pleaded no contest Nov. 22 to charges of embezzlement, interfering with an examiner and diversion from a fiduciary fund.

He had been accused of siphoning money from trust funds and spending money earmarked for personal insurance policies. He was accused of pocketing sums ranging from $110 to $3,100 from premium trust funds, which are escrow-like accounts in which an agent deposits clients’ premiums for removal by an insurance company.

As part of a plea agreement, O’Brien already has repaid $5,111 to his victims.

He also has voluntarily given up his insurance license for five years, his attorney, Tom Clark, said Monday as state District Judge Michael Vigil sentenced O’Brien.

“Whether you ran a sloppy ship, were in over your head, or whether it was dishonesty, clearly this matter was mishandled,” Vigil told O’Brien.

O’Brien could face 81/2 years in prison if he does not meet the terms of his probation.

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