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Florida Insurance Agent Accused of Stealing Premiums, Putting Uninsured Truck Drivers on Road

1/11/2005

CONTACT:     
Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE-An insurance agent who allegedly failed to place auto and general liability coverage for at least 11 Florida trucking companies was arrested Monday in Georgia on an outstanding warrant. 
 
Kim Laustra, 43, was an agent at the Medley, Florida, agency Transportation Insurance Consultants, Inc., 9657 NW South River Dr., at the time these alleged incidents occurred.  She was arrested Monday afternoon in Ludowici, Georgia, by the Long County Sheriff's Office.  She was wanted on 12 felony charges following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.  Investigators said she misappropriated more than $93,000 in premiums and issued fraudulent insurance certificates. 
 
"Such actions create a serious risk not only for the individual who sought to purchase the coverage but everyone sharing the road with these uninsured drivers," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  "We will pursue the highest criminal penalty under the law and if she is convicted we will revoke her agent license."
 
TIC sold coverage mostly to small, independent trucking operations with one or two trucks.
 
Laustra is charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud in the first degree, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison; one count of misappropriation of funds in the second degree, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; and 10 counts of misappropriation of funds in the third degree, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count.
 
The Department of Financial Services, 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 FraudBusters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.