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Two Broward Women Charged for Falsely Representing Marriage Documents to Collect on Death Benefits

8/5/2005

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842          
  
WEST PALM BEACH—Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that two Broward women are facing felony changes for falsifying marriage documents to collect more than $100,000 in insurance death benefits.
 
Deanna L. Brown, 39, who attempted to collect on the estate of her deceased live-in boyfriend, is charged with two counts of perjury and one count each of insurance fraud and third-degree grand theft.  The deceased's sister Christal Caruso-Hansen, 33, is charged with one count of perjury.  The arrests were made earlier this week. Detectives with the Department of Financial Service, Division of Insurance Fraud, said that Brown and Caruso-Hansen conspired to falsely represent that Brown was married to Michael A. Caruso, Jr. at the time of his death on May 6, 2004.
 
"The proceeds should go to Mr. Caruso's rightful heirs," Gallagher said. Caruso had an ex-wife and two children. 
 
Caruso died as a result of an accidental drug overdose complicated by diabetes at the Royal Palm Beach home he shared with Brown.  In statements given to police officers at the scene, Brown said she was Caruso's live-in girlfriend and fiancé and that they were intending to get married. 
 
After Caruso's death, Brown and Caruso-Hansen allegedly falsified marriage documents so that Brown could be appointed the personal representative of Caruso's estate.  Then, Brown, representing herself as the spouse of Caruso, filed a written claim for $109,000 in death benefits with Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company.  To date, no payment has been made.
 
The Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud investigates various forms of fraud insurance, including health, life, auto and workers' compensation.  Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the Departments' Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.
 
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As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.