FORMER AGENT CHARGED WITH STEALING $845,000 IN PREMIUMS
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced the arrest of a former insurance agent who is facing up to 180 years in prison for allegedly stealing more than $845,000 in insurance premiums intended to buy boat insurance for customers.
John Paul Castagna, 46, who was the owner of Castagna Specialty Risk formerly located at 201 N. Federal Highway, Suite 111, and 265 S. Federal Highway, Suite 342, Deerfield Beach, was arrested Wednesday by detectives with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. He was booked into the Broward County Jail on charges of misappropriation of insurance premium, two counts of grand theft in the first degree, four counts of grand theft in the second degree, and six counts of grand theft in the third degree. Bond was set at $48,500.
“Every arrest of an individual engaged in insurance fraud brings greater stability and security to Florida’s insurance market,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department. “The detectives with the Division of Insurance Fraud who build these cases and bring down these criminals on almost a daily basis are unsung heroes who deserve our thanks.”
The investigation determined that, from November 2001 through April 2004, Castagna engaged in an ongoing scheme wherein he accepted insurance premiums for marine insurance from insurance agents and did not forward the premiums to the insurance companies. In each instance, detectives said, Castagna received the insurance premiums from the agents and deposited the funds into his bank account. The charges against Castagna are based on 17 victims, including customers, insurance companies, insurance agents and finance companies.
The department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, revoked Castagna’s agent license last year and referred the case to the Division of Insurance Fraud for criminal investigation. The Broward County State Attorney's Office is prosecuting the charges.
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers’ compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department’s Fraud Fighter Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.