News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: March 30, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Former Insurance Agent Convicted of Stealing From Customers
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced that Robert S. Rice, 59, of Thousand Oaks, was sentenced to 365 days of house arrest and three years formal probation after being convicted of 10 counts of grand theft. Rice has paid restitution totaling $236,184 to victims.
"I won't tolerate insurance agents stealing from their clients," said Commissioner Poizner. "This kind of scheme is particularly dangerous because it leaves victims exposed to losses they assume are covered. The Department of Insurance will crack down on anyone who attempts to break the law and hurt consumers."
CDI opened an investigation after receiving consumer complaints that Rice's clients had purchased general liability/construction wrap policies and commercial apartment building policies but did not receive an actual policy. From November 2001 through February 2004, Rice accepted in excess of $262,000 in insurance premiums from seven clients who never received valid policies. The CDI investigation revealed that Rice did not send the premiums he collected to insurance carriers. Instead, he created bogus documents and forged signatures of insurance company executives. He presented these documents to his victims as evidence of insurance.
Rice, whose health is failing, still owes approximately $37,000 in restitution to his victims. A hearing on July 22, 2009 will determine if he has any additional assets to use in order to pay the outstanding restitution.
This case was prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's Enforcement Branch since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.
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