A Mount Ida, Ark., man who operated several insurance agencies across the state has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud charges.
Steven Alan Standridge entered the pleas Sept. 18 in federal court. He was indicted in August on charges of bank fraud, conspiring to commit bank fraud, making a false statement to a financial institution, aiding and abetting bank fraud and money laundering.
Standridge was the founder of the Steve Standridge Insurance Inc. based in Mount Ida. Arkansas’ Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford in March 2010 suspended Standridge’s resident producer license on allegations that he falsified collateral used to purchase another insurance organization and improperly retained and kept premium financing for a commercial client.
Authorities allege that Standridge conspired with two other men to obtain premium finance loans — then kept the money from the loans.
In revoking his producer’s license, the state insurance department in 2010 alleged Standridge had “solicited and caused to be presented a premium financing agreement or loan arrangement for approximately $846,311 with the Bank of Star City…” based in Star City, Ark. The funds were for a commercial property policy for a Camden, Ark., based company for policies issued in November 2008 by RSUI Indemnity Co. with a participating policy issued by Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.
The RSUI policy was cancelled in August 2009 but the Bank of Star City was not notified, the order alleges. Standridge “retained or refused to return to the Bank an unearned premium” of approximately $429,717.53, the order says. On Feb. 26, the Bank of Star City filed suit against Steve Standridge Insurance, and the insured following delinquency in the payment of the premium financing arrangement in the Circuit Court of Lincoln County, Ark, No. LCV-2010-23-2.
The DOI order also alleged that a department of insurance financial review of the purchase of Gibraltar National Insurance Co. by Steve Standridge Insurance uncovered misleading documents related to the funding of the agency’s purchase of Gibraltar.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that a judge set an Oct. 22 trial date, but Standridge’s attorney, Tim Dudley, has filed a motion for postponement.
Associated Press reports contributed to this story.