Volume 2 Number 32
August 8, 2005

Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762

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Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that two Broward women are facing felony changes for falsifying marriage documents to collect more than $100,000 in insurance death benefits.

Deanna L. Brown, 39, who attempted to collect on the estate of her deceased live-in boyfriend, is charged with two counts of perjury and one count each of insurance fraud and third-degree grand theft.  The deceased’s sister Christal Caruso-Hansen, 33, is charged with one count of perjury.  The arrests were made earlier this week. Detectives with the Department of Financial Service, Division of Insurance Fraud, said that Brown and Caruso-Hansen conspired to falsely represent that Brown was married to Michael A. Caruso, Jr. at the time of his death on May 6, 2004.

“The proceeds should go to Mr. Caruso’s rightful heirs,” Gallagher said. Caruso had an ex-wife and two children. 

Caruso died as a result of an accidental drug overdose complicated by diabetes at the Royal Palm Beach home he shared with Brown.  In statements given to police officers at the scene, Brown said she was Caruso’s live-in girlfriend and fiancé and that they were intending to get married. 

After Caruso’s death, Brown and Caruso-Hansen allegedly falsified marriage documents so that Brown could be appointed the personal representative of Caruso’s estate.  Then, Brown, representing herself as the spouse of Caruso, filed a written claim for $109,000 in death benefits with Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company.  To date, no payment has been made.

The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud investigates various forms of fraud insurance, including health, life, auto and workers’ compensation.  Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the Departments’ Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.

Night falls over the 1908 Lafayette County courthouse in Mayo, the county seat.  The two-story frame building across the street was an earlier courthouse. The county was formed in 1856 and named after the French marquis who assisted the colonies during the Revolutionary War.