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Gallagher: Trg Operators to Pay $3 Million

2/14/2006

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842 
 
Restitution will reimburse nearly 180 Florida victims
 
TALLAHASSEE – Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, announced today that Florida victims of TRG Marketing LLC, the Indiana-based unauthorized insurance entity that left hundreds of Floridians with unpaid medical claims, will get back nearly $3 million in restitution.  Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, which conducted the only criminal investigation against the operators.  TRG left an estimated 7,300 victims in 43 states.
 
"I am pleased that this money is being returned to the victims," Gallagher said.  "This may help them recover from the financial anguish, but the mental anguish may never be undone."
 
Carmelo Zanfei and William Paul Crouse were ordered to pay restitution during sentencing last August by Ninth Circuit Court Judge Julie H. O'Kane.  Zanfei was sentenced to two years in prison, and Crouse was sentenced to four years in prison, and they will jointly pay the restitution.  The department's investigation identified about 180 Florida victims, one of whom is due $138,000. 
 
Teresa Orr, of Monteverde, Fla., has steadfastly declared that her husband Pete Orr, a NASCAR-circuit driver, died because he could not get timely access to medical care he needed due to mounting unpaid claims. Orr's death prompted Gallagher to pursue legislation, the "Pete Orr Bill" that passed in 2003, which significantly increased criminal penalties for individuals convicted of operating an unlicensed insurance entity.
 
Department investigations have led to emergency cease and desist orders against 28 unlicensed entities in Florida, and administrative or criminal charges against nearly 250 insurance agents and unlicensed entity operators.  Because these entities are not licensed in Florida, there are no assurances of their ability to pay claims.  Investigations are continuing. 
 
Employers, health care professionals and individuals shopping for insurance coverage are urged to check with the department to be sure they are dealing with a Florida-licensed insurance company and a Florida-licensed insurance agent.  To check on the license status of a company or agent, consumers should visit www.fldfs.com and click on Verify Before You Buy, or call the Department of Financial Services' Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762.
 
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.