News: 2012 Press Release
For Release: October 25, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Former Insurance Agent Sentenced in Premium Theft Case
La Mesa Agent Ordered to Pay $250,105 in Restitution to Victims
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that Richard Scott Webster Jr., aka Chris Webster, 33, of Redding, (formerly of La Mesa), has been sentenced to 365 days for theft of insurance premiums. He was charged with four felony counts for grand theft and theft of fiduciary funds.
"Investigating workers' compensation insurance fraud is a top priority of my Department," said Commissioner Jones. "This former agent has been brought to justice for his deceit and placing his clients and their employees at great financial risk."
According to investigators, the California Department of Insurance (CDI), Investigation Division, received complaints from two insurance companies alleging theft of workers' compensation insurance premiums by Webster. The investigation revealed that Webster collected over $240,000 from a roofing contractor in Northern California in 2009 and over $9,000 from a pharmacy in El Cajon in 2008 for workers' compensation insurance policies. However, Webster failed to remit the insurance premiums to the insurance companies, as required by state law, and kept the premiums for his personal use. The pharmacy's insurance policy was cancelled by the insurance company as a result of the theft by Webster, exposing the pharmacy and its employees to increased risk without state-mandated workers' compensation coverage.
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office filed a felony complaint in San Diego Superior Court against Webster in May 2012 charging Webster with the four felony counts. Webster was notified of the complaint and was directed to appear for arraignment on June 25, 2012. After failing to appear for his scheduled arraignment, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Webster was arrested by the CDI's Criminal Operations Point of Sale [C.O.P.S] Unit at his residence in Redding, California on July 17, 2012. He entered guilty pleas and was convicted in August.
"This conviction is another example of the joint efforts of the San Diego District Attorney's Office and the California Department of Insurance to proactively investigate and prosecute workers' compensation fraud, which costs California consumers an estimated $4 billion dollars every year," said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Webster has been in custody since his arrest on July 17, 2012, with credit for time served, he will serve the remainder of his sentence in the Probation Department's Work Furlough program. He was also ordered to pay $250,105 in restitution to the victims.
Webster was licensed by the California Department of Insurance as a Fire and Casualty Broker-Agent in 2003. His license expired in July 2009.
This case was investigated by CDI's Investigation Division in San Diego and prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.