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Three South Florida Men Banned from Industry

6/13/2002

TALLAHASSEE - Three South Florida men have been banned from the state's insurance industry after one of the agents pleaded guilty Tuesday to organized fraud, a first-degree felony, stemming from a scheme that diverted more than $100,000 from two premium finance companies.

Richard Eugene Roth, 36 of Coral Springs, entered the plea today in Broward County Circuit Court. Roth also was ordered to serve 10 years probation and pay $109,485 in restitution to the finance companies, with $10,000 to be paid within 30 days. The Florida Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud and Bureau of Agent and Agency Investigations conducted the investigation.

Roth, who served as office manager and part owner of the now-defunct Liberty Auto Insurance Agency, formerly located at 1685 N. Hiatus Rd. in Pembroke Pines, admitted to investigators that he defrauded the National Premium Budget Plan of more than $31,000 and GMAC Insurance of more than $76,000 through forged and fraudulent documents submitted from January through April of 2000. Roth submitted fictitious insurance policy applications to local automobile insurance carriers, obtained financing for the phony policies and then collected the financed insurance premiums and commissions.

The investigation revealed that some legitimate policies were financed through multiple finance companies. When no payments were made on the fraudulent finance contracts, consumers' policies were canceled.

Benigno Garcia, 35, of Hollywood, the licensed agent at the business, and business owner Gregory DeArmas, 36, of Parkland, were not criminally charged, but also stipulated to lifetime industry bans in resolution to the investigation. In a consent order signed in February, Roth had been administratively barred by the department of Insurance from acting as an agent, so he held himself out to be the office manager, investigators said. Garcia allegedly allowed Roth to sign his name to documents to make them appear legitimate.

The Department of Insurance, 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 is offered for information leading to a conviction.