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CA Department of Insurance

Commissioner Jones Announces Guilty Plea of Bail Agent For Grand Theft

News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: August 31, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Commissioner Jones Announces Guilty Plea of Bail Agent For Grand Theft
Van Nuys bail agent used funds for personal gain

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that Stephanie Dianne Johnson, 55, has entered a guilty plea for one Felony count of Grand Theft in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Johnson surrendered her bail agent license in 2010 and as part of her felony plea agreement she will be sentenced to 90-days in the county jail, five years felony probation and will be ordered to pay $7,235 in restitution, plus $470 in fines and court fees.

Investigators discovered that from February 2009 through April 2009, Johnson executed 13 bail bonds with a total face value of $390,000. The investigation revealed that Johnson collected no less than $34,000 in gross premiums from 12 of the 13 defendants that she bailed out of custody, yet she failed to remit $5,070 in net premiums owed to the bail surety. Instead, Johnson diverted these funds for her own personal use.

It was also revealed that Johnson failed to return or account for 11 bail bonds with a total face value of $250,000 and $3,250 in premiums. These bonds were recovered in April 2011 and investigators also discovered that Johnson had executed nine of these bonds, representing an additional loss of $1,885 to the surety. The two remaining bonds were voided.

The Investigation Division, Criminal Operations - Point of Sale (COPS) Unit first learned of the alleged scheme in May 2010 and initiated an immediate investigation. In June 2010, Johnson met with investigators and surrendered her bail license when confronted with the evidence. Johnson was arrested on February 3, 2011 at her home in Van Nuys, by COPS investigators.

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 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.

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