Volume 5 Number 20
May 16, 2008

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of a Pasco County couple for allegedly deceiving an 89-year-old woman out of nearly $200,000 and using it toward the purchase of a million dollar home.

The couple faces four felony charges: grand theft over $100,000, crimes against the elderly, conspiracy, and operating an unlicensed and false entity as a conduit to defraud their victims.

“This is a horrendous example of two people who preyed upon a senior who trusted them with her life savings,” said CFO Sink. “I commend our insurance fraud detectives for their work in going after criminals who defraud our seniors and bringing them to justice.”

John W. Morehart, 51, of New Port Richey allegedly approached 89-year old Mary Nusser as a licensed stock broker and convinced her to invest in a hedge fund. At John Morehart’s request, Nusser signed over a blank check which was to be invested in the fund. Instead, the check was made out to his wife, Debra Morehart, 50, for $199,000 and deposited into the couple’s joint checking account.

Authorities believe the Morehart’s were aware of a prior settlement paid to Mary Nusser, in the amount of $199,000, from dealings with another insurance agent who sold her unsuitable annuities.

Over an eight month period, the couple wrote over $135,000 in checks from their joint account, using the money for a down payment and renovations on a $1.7 million Lake Tarpon home. The couple continued to provide fraudulent monthly statements to Nusser showing a rise in her investments, though no such hedge fund ever existed.

Neither of the Moreharts has ever possessed a securities license. The department has information indicating John Morehart solicited over 30 victims in Florida.

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates insurance agents and agencies concerning violations of the Florida insurance regulations. Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud.