Volume 2 Number 22
May 30, 2005



A man who allegedly lied on his application for disability income insurance and then filed a claim one week after getting the policy is facing felony charges of application fraud, first-degree grand theft and first-degree insurance fraud.

Bruce Sutherland, 43, was arrested May 20 on the charges following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.   He has a real estate license but claimed he was unable to work due to panic attacks.  If convicted on the charges, he potentially faces up to 65 years in prison.

“Fraud drives up the cost of insurance for every Floridian and makes it harder for families to get the coverage they need,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the department. 

The investigation began after the Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company forwarded information that indicated Sutherland misrepresented information about his occupation, income, and medical history on an application for disability income insurance.  Department detectives said medical and hospital records confirmed that Sutherland provided false information regarding his medical history, and documents from the Social Security Administration indicated he provided false salary information as well.      

Based on his application, Sutherland was issued a Disability Income Policy that provided a monthly disability benefit of $3,000 until he turned 65.  Sutherland’s maximum benefit for disability would have been approximately $828,000.  The claim ultimately was denied.

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 Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Lake County, the 43rd county, was established  May 27, 1887, being taken from Orange and Sumter counties and named for the large number of lakes within its boundaries. The courthouse, above, was built in 1924.