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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Sentencing Of Agent For Elder Abuse And Grand Theft

News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: February 7, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Sentencing Of Agent For Elder Abuse And Grand Theft
Utah man originally charged with 38 Felony counts

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that Donald Martin Steffensen, 73, of Midvale, Utah was sentenced on January 27 for violating Penal Code Section 368 (d) Financial Elder Abuse and Penal Code 487 Grand Theft, along with Penal Code 186.11 (a) (sentence enhancement for Fraud and Embezzlement). Steffensen entered a plea of No Contest in Madera County Superior Court.

He was sentenced to time served after more than 700 days in jail, and placed on three years probation following his release. He was also ordered to pay more than $352,000 in restitution as well as court costs.

"My Department does not tolerate insurance agents who scam innocent policyholders, especially the elderly," said Commissioner Jones. "We will make sure they are brought to justice and not allowed to continue to prey upon seniors."

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) opened an investigation into Steffensen's insurance sales practices after receiving a consumer complaint against him in 2007. The complaint alleged that while doing business as Senior Financial Benefits, Steffensen defrauded a 75-year-old Madera County resident. After selling his client an annuity, he directed the insurance company to send monthly benefits, totaling about $55,000 to his own address without the client's knowledge. He continued to receive benefits even after the client passed away in April 2003. Steffensen stole an additional $328,000 from the same Madera County client when he liquidated another annuity and took the proceeds from the sale of the client's house, and illegally received an insurer payout the client had been awarded after being seriously injured in an automobile accident.

CDI revoked Steffensen's license to sell insurance in 2006. In 2009 the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service extradited him from the Philippines and delivered him to CDI investigators in Los Angeles. Steffensen has one prior misdemeanor grand theft conviction for stealing $5,000 from an elderly Kings County resident. CDI was not involved in that case.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.