News: 2009 Press Release
For Release: October 12, 2009
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Announces Former Sacramento Insurance Agent Sentenced to Serve 13 Years in Prison, Pay $434,000 Restitution for Stealing to Fund Gambling Habit
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced today that former insurance agent Maria Elna Flora, 59, of Sacramento, pled no contest to one count of first degree burglary and eleven counts of grand theft. Flora was sentenced to serve 13 years 4 months in state prison and ordered to pay $434,278.69 in restitution to her victims.
"There is no excuse for insurance agents to steal from their clients," said Commissioner Poizner. "Any individual who attempts to defraud victims will learn this lesson the hard way – by serving time in prison and repaying every dime they stole."
From January 2005 through August 2007, Flora allegedly convinced at least 12 individuals living in Butte, El Dorado, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus and Yolo Counties to invest between $5,000 and $88,000 with her. Flora allegedly encouraged her victims to shift their savings into short-term investments with her that promised returns ranging from 10 to 20 percent. Flora allegedly told her victims that their funds would be used to make real estate loans to investors who would pay high interest rates. However, in most cases, Flora made only a few interest payments to investors. She purportedly promised to pay her victims at a later date, but never did.
CDI investigators discovered that Flora allegedly used her victim's money to fund an expensive gambling habit. From approximately January 2005 to August 2007, Flora purportedly used the money for almost daily slot play at Thunder Valley Casino.
Flora was arrested on June 18 as a result of a joint operation by the California Department of Insurance investigators, the Yolo County District Attorney's Office and the California Attorney General's Office. The case was prosecuted in Sacramento by the California Attorney General's Office. She was sentenced on Oct. 8.
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 division 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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