Four Agents Plead Guilty to Insurance Fraud in New Jersey

January 14, 2010

Four former insurance agents have pleaded guilty for their role in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums, New Jersey’s attorney general said.

They are Thomas Hurd, of Bensalem, Pa., William Wolnski, of Bayville, N.J. Terrence Downs, also of Bensalem, and Christopher Melilli,of Philadelphia. The four owned, operated, controlled or were associated with two insurance agencies, T.I.C. Brokerage and Hurd Insurance Agency, both of which were operated in Bensalem, Pa.

In pleading guilty, Hurd admitted that between Oct. 1, 2001, and Oct.10, 2004, he accepted insurance premiums from small businesses, including taxi and limousine companies, in order to supply commercial insurance, but did not remit the premium to the insurance company — stealing it instead. In some cases, this left the customers with invalid insurance or no insurance. An investigation by the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor determined that Hurd, through the scheme, stole more than $322,200.

Downs admitted that between Oct. 22, 2003, and Sept. 5, 2004, he conspired with Hurd to solicit insurance to small businesses, including taxi and limousine companies, where the customers did not receive the insurance, and Hurd, kept the premiums.

Melilli and Wolnski admitted that between Aug. 19, 2003, and Sept. 24, 2004, they attempted to solicit insurance to small businesses, including taxi and limousine companies, where the customers did not receive the insurance, and Hurd retained the insurance premiums.

Hurd pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy and the state will recommend a sentence of three years in prison.

Downs has pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy; Wolnski and Melilli pleaded guilty to third-degree attempted theft by deception. The state will recommend a probationary sentence for each of the three.

All four were originally charged in a June 9, 2008 state grand jury indictment.

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Source: N.J. Office of the Attorney General

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