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CA Department of Insurance

El Cajon insurance agent arrested for stealing premium payments

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: March 23, 2015
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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El Cajon insurance agent arrested for stealing premium payments
Search for additional victims continues as San Diego DA files 30 count criminal complaint


Dawna Louise Ernster aka Dawna Louise Salois, age 48, of El Cajon, California was sentenced last weekto 180 days in custody, 5 years formal probation and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution to multiple victims.Ernster's custody was stayed, pending successful completion of probation.Below is the arrest news release from October 20, 2014.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Dawna Louise Ernster, also known as Dawna Louise Salois, 48, of El Cajon, was arrested Tuesday, October 15, on 14 felony counts of grand theft, 14 felony counts of failure to disclose events affecting insurance coverage and two misdemeanor counts of petty theft.

"Ernster violated her fiduciary responsibility and placed her customers at unnecessary risk for her own personal gain," said Commissioner Dave Jones.

Ernster was licensed as an insurance agent and specialized in selling general liability insurance policies to construction companies. More than a dozen companies and individuals reported to the department that Ernster collected and allegedly stole their insurance premiums.

This case is being prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office. Ernster's bail is set at $50,000 and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 29. If convicted, Ernster faces up to 18 years in state prison.

The Department of Insurance is looking for additional victims in this case and encourages anyone that may have done business with Dawna Ernster, aka Dawna Salois, and JND Insurance Services to contact investigators at (858) 693-7150.

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Media Notes:

  • Booking photo available on the CDI Flickr page.
  • Agency license details for JND Insurance Services (#0G32156)
  • Individual license details for Dawna Louise Salois, AKA Dawna Louise Ernster. (#0D77382
  • Criminal complaint includes 14 felony counts of PC 550 (b)(3), 14 felony counts of PC 487 (a), and two misdemeanor counts of PC 484.  

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.

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