Principal of Nebraska Agency Under Investigation Files for Bankruptcy

One of the principals of a Grand Island business suspected in a Ponzi scheme has filed for bankruptcy.

Stella Levea of Grand Island says in her Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that she owes between $1 million and $10 million. Her assets are estimated at $500,0000 to $1 million.

Levea is included in an investigation of First Americans Insurance Service. State and federal investigators are trying to piece together how more than $100 million disappeared from the business.

First Americans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 12, claiming between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities.

Documents filed Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lincoln show Levea’s top three creditors are also listed as First Americans’ creditors. She owes the three men — who live in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado — a combined $950,000.

Levea’s other debts include $117,698 to American Express, $13,025 to Bank of America and $10,000 to QVC.

A call to Levea’s home went unanswered on Saturday. A message left for her attorney was not immediately returned.

Last month, Levea and First Americans’ other principals — James Masat and Kenneth Mottin — agreed to have their insurance licenses revoked. By doing so, they did not admit or deny allegations they face.

A Ponzi scheme, or pyramid scheme, is a scam in which people are persuaded to invest in a fraudulent operation that promises unusually high returns. The early investors are paid their returns out of money put in by later investors.