Claims Fraud: Insurance Agent, Public Adjuster, Auto Repair Shop Owner
The chief executive officer of a Taunton, Massachusetts insurance agency pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in a scheme that stole $295,278 from local businesses, state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said Friday.
David G. Pietro, 67, of Sandwich and his company, DPG-Miles Insurance Agency, entered guilty pleas for five felony counts of larceny by embezzlement in Bristol Superior Court. Judge Daniel O’Shea sentenced Pietro to two years of probation ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service and pay restitution to the victims. The amount has not yet been determined.
O’Shea also ordered Pietro’s company, DGP-Miles Insurance Agency, to surrender its insurance license, which effectively bars the company from continuing to operate, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Prosecutors say Pietro collected premiums but failed to remit the payments to the insurers, leaving clients without coverage. Most of the five victims were small businesses, the office said.
The embezzlement scheme resulted in several client companies having their commercial insurance policies cancelled.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance had suspended the license of a New Orleans public adjuster accused of fraudulently endorsing checks from insurance companies and keeping the money.
LDI’s Office of Insurance Fraud and Enforcement on July 22 issued a cease-and-desist order to Kade Austen Mitchell and his company Mitchell Adjusting International.
The Insurance Department said in a press release that Mitchell fraudulent endorsed checks totaling $150,000 from an insurance company and failed to remit the funds to the insured. On another occasion, Mitchell withheld a $117,441.43 insurance claim payment from a policyholder, the office said.
“Louisiana policyholders put great trust in the public adjusters they hire to handle their claims after a loss and deserve to have that trust honored,” stated Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. “This sort of behavior will not be tolerated in the Louisiana insurance market.”
The department said Mitchell was licensed in Louisiana as a public adjuster on Dec. 10, 2020. The company’s website says it is headquartered in New Orleans and has an office in Clear Lake Shores, Texas.
The owner of an auto repair shop in Kennewick, Washington pleaded guilty to a felony after failing provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees for the second time.
The state Department of Labor and Industries said Rodney Eugene Dietrich, 47, was sentenced to 30 days of electronic home monitoring by Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Norma Rodriguez.
The department said Dietrich employed two men at his shop, Rod’s Cars, from November 2017 to May 2019. He failed to provide workers’ compensation insurance as required by state law, the department said.
One employee was paid cash and another traded his labor for auto parts and other items, investigators say.
The department said Dietrich pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for the same offense in October 2016. He was charged again with felony charge after two L&I investigators notice that employees were working at the shop, which was not insured at the time.
Dietrich opened the shop in 2004, but changed its name, business structure and business license three times after falling behind on workers’ compensation premium payments, the department says. He owes more than $40,000 in late premiums, interest and penalties. Dietrich also owes more than $2,200 in wages and penalties for failing to pay an employee in 2013, the department said.
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