CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrests of Five Individuals Accused of More than $130,000 in Workers’ Compensation Fraud
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrests of Otto Biltres, Tampa, 41; Charles Brown, Tarpon Springs, 38; Kelly Bree Brown, Tarpon Springs, 34; Johnny Alton Lewis, Clearwater, 51; and Joseph T. Jordan, Palm Harbor, 50, for an organized scheme to defraud and operating without an insurance license.
An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Otto Biltres, owner of a temporary staffing agency called Preferred Staffing of America, Inc., knowingly misled consumers into believing that his company was a licensed professional employer organization (PEO) and could perform PEO services such as providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage to client companies. Biltres charged client companies more than $130,000 for services and workers’ compensation insurance that was never provided.
Biltres formed a partnership with Charles Brown, a licensed insurance agent, to refer companies to Preferred Staffing of America, Inc. for a 45 percent commission. Brown is accused of assisting Biltres with falsifying all the certificates of insurance that Biltres sent to each of his clients.
Brown’s wife, Kelly Bree Brown, along with two unlicensed insurance agents, Joseph T. Jordan and Johnny Alton Lewis, is also accused of facilitating this organized scheme to defraud by steering client companies to Preferred Staffing of America, Inc. for a commission fee.
Biltres, Brown, Lewis, Jordan and Brown were booked into the Pinellas County Jail. If convicted, they each face up to 30 years in prison.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses; and providing transparency and accountability in spending.