Former insurance agent sentenced after stealing $220,000 from elderly clients including late art dealer
News: 2023 Press Release
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — John Philip Ryan, 64, of Yucca Valley, was sentenced and ordered to pay over $220,000 in restitution to victims after pleading guilty to two felony counts of financial elder abuse and grand theft of insurance premiums. An investigation by the California Department of Insurance found Ryan acted in his capacity as a licensed insurance agent to steal money from his clients, some of which was intended to be used to pay insurance premiums. The Department has revoked Ryan’s insurance licenses and licensing rights and banned him from participating in the business of insurance.
“This insurance agent gained his clients’ trust in order to access their money and then stole from them with no regard for their livelihoods,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “My Department will not tolerate agents who harm consumers, especially the elderly. This case is a great example of the actions my Department and our law enforcement partners will take to stop bad actors and protect California consumers.”
The Department opened an investigation in 2017 after receiving a complaint from Ryan’s former employee that Ryan retained premiums instead of remitting them to insurance companies. One of the victims of these crimes, Gregg Juarez, was a former art dealer and philanthropist who passed away in May 2018 at the age of 94. Ryan used his position as Juarez’s longtime insurance agent to gain trust and access financial documents and information in order to commit his crimes. Search warrants executed on Ryan’s bank accounts revealed that Ryan misappropriated $87,000 over a period of at least two years from Juarez.
“A measure of justice has been delivered for 12 of Defendant Ryan’s clients in San Diego and Riverside Counties, including vulnerable elders, who fell prey to Ryan’s schemes,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “As an agent, Ryan took criminal advantage of their confidences for personal financial gain. Thanks to a thorough investigation by the California Department of Insurance working with an expert prosecution team from my office, Ryan stands convicted and sentenced and can no longer participate in insurance transactions which will prevent him from victimizing seniors in this way in the future.”
During the investigation the Department found Ryan transacted insurance under the names of “Calinsured”, “Greater Palm Springs Insurance” and “PS Independent Insurance”. The investigation revealed 11 additional victims who Ryan stole from, including another client who was in his 80s. The combined total stolen by Ryan from all his victims was over $220,000.
The Department encourages any of Ryan’s current and former insurance clients to review their policies and contact the listed insurance company to verify its validity and confirm receipt of any funds they may have given to Ryan.
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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.