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Father, Son Convicted of Insurance Premium Thefts

4/7/2004

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

FORT LAUDERDALE-A father and son have pleaded guilty to diverting thousands of dollars in premiums from a South Florida insurance agency.

John Pascale, former owner of AAA Turnpike Insurance Agency, pleaded guilty to one count each of grand theft and misappropriation of insurance premiums. His son, Anthony Michael Pascale, who had previously been banned from working in Florida's insurance industry, pleaded guilty to first-degree organized fraud.

The elder Pascale, 58, was sentenced to four years of probation, and a hearing is planned to determine amount of restitution. His son, 33, was sentenced to two years in state prison, 10 years probation and pay $100,000 in restitution.

"These individuals took advantage of their customers and, worse, put their coverage at risk," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. As CFO, Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, which conducted the investigation that led to the Pascales' arrests last year. "Our investigators worked quickly to shut down this scam, and we will do everything we can to ensure these two never work in Florida's insurance industry again."

Investigators from the department's Division of Insurance Fraud, working in conjunction with the Division of Agent and Agency Services, arrested Anthony Michael Pascale last July. He had previously been banned from Florida's insurance industry in February 2000 for theft, but soon after went to work in the back room of his father's former agency. While there, he diverted more than $180,000 of customers' insurance payments.

His father was arrested last October on charges that he diverted more than $64,000 in customers' payments in an attempt to cover debts that were created by his son's thefts. He has since sold the agency. The department has revoked John Pascale's license. On July 1, 2003, it became a felony for any revoked, suspended, or banned insurance agent to violate such an order.

The Department of Financial Services 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 a conviction.