Title marketing representative agrees to give up license and accept lifetime ban following accusation and $1 million penalty against employer
News: 2021 Press Release
LOS ANGELES — Title marketing representative Eugene “Gene” Bleecker has agreed to surrender his certificate of registration to market title insurance and accept a permanent ban on ever seeking another license from the California Department of Insurance to resolve the accusation the Department issued against him. In April 2021, the Department alleged that Bleecker, a former employee of First American Title Company, consistently violated anti-inducement laws through his improper influence over a networking group that provided benefits to real estate agents.
Earlier this year, First American Title Company agreed to pay the Department over $1 million for its role in failing to supervise Bleecker’s involvement with the networking group.
“This action against one of the most well-known title marketing representatives in the industry should serve as a warning to anyone engaging in practices that violate California laws and can drive up prices for consumers,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “My Department is committed to vigorously investigating allegations of illegal inducements for referral of title business that undermine fair competition.”
The Department’s investigation found that Bleecker was inappropriately enmeshed in an approximately 600-member strong real estate networking group called the Advisory Group Real Estate Network, with chapters in the Santa Clarita, Antelope, and San Fernando Valleys. Bleecker was the only title marketing representative in the group, decided when and where to start new chapters, and provided direction on everything from who would speak at meetings to what events the group would hold.
The investigation also found that group members received benefits including custom video marketing, a tour bus caravan to view and promote listings, social media training, and sales coaching. These benefits created the possibility of a quid-pro-quo relationship with Bleecker due to his influence over the group. State law protects consumers from conflicts of interest in title insurance referrals that can inflate the cost of real estate transactions.
As part of the surrender of his license, which takes effect on April 1, 2022, Bleecker did not admit to the allegations in the accusation.
- Order Adopting Stipulation
- Title company to pay $1 million penalty after Department of Insurance alleges employee broke law protecting real estate consumers
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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.