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Lehigh Acres Auto Agent Arrested Today on Charge of Misappropriating Funds

10/23/2002

LEHIGH ACRES - A LeHigh Acres insurance agent was arrested today on a charge of misappropriation of insurance premiums after a Department of Insurance investigation determined that he failed to place commercial automobile coverage for numerous customers.

Steven Allen Hayhurst-Ricciardi, 29, owner of A-AAA Discount Auto Insurance, was arrested in Lake County, Ill. Investigators said it appears he fled there earlier this month to enlist in the U.S. Navy in an attempt to escape arrest. A warrant for his arrest was issued after investigators with the Division of Insurance Fraud served a search warrant on Sept. 5 at A-AAA, located at 1000 Lee Blvd.

The department began investigating Hayhurst-Ricciardi's agency after customers began reporting that they were not receiving certificates of coverage after paying for commercial liability insurance.

Hayhurst-Ricciardi, who was licensed as a life agent in 1994 and as a property and casualty agent in 1997, could face disciplinary action against his license if convicted. He also faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of the misappropriation charge.

Customers of A-AAA should contact their insurance carrier directly to verify coverage. For assistance, call the department's toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.

The Division of Insurance Fraud conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Bureau of Agent and Agency Investigations and the Lee County State Attorney's Office, Economic Crimes Unit.