Insurance agent, public adjuster, auto repair shop owner

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Insurance agent pleads guilty to embezzlement

The chief executive of a Taunton, Mass., insurance agency has pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in a scheme that stole $295,278 from local businesses, the bureau said Friday. State Attorney General Maura Healey.

David G. Pietro, 67, of Sandwich and his company, DPG-Miles Insurance Agency, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by embezzlement in Bristol Superior Court. Judge Daniel O’Shea sentenced Pietro to two years probation and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service and make restitution to the victims. The amount has not yet been determined.

O’Shea also ordered Pietro to surrender his insurance license, effectively preventing his business from continuing to operate, the attorney general’s office said.

Prosecutors say Pietro collected the premiums but failed to make payments to insurers, leaving customers without coverage. Most of the five victims were small businesses, the bureau said.

The embezzlement scheme led to several corporate clients having their commercial insurance policies terminated.

LDI suspends the public expert

The Louisiana Department of Insurance had suspended the license of a New Orleans public adjuster accused of fraudulently endorsing checks from insurance companies and keeping the money.

LDI’s Office of Insurance Fraud and Enforcement issued a cease and desist order on July 22 to Kade Austen Mitchell and his company Mitchell Adjusting International.

The Department of Insurance said in a news release that Mitchell fraudulently endorsed checks totaling $150,000 from an insurance company and failed to release the funds to the insured. On another occasion, Mitchell withheld payment of an insurance claim of $117,441.43 to an insured, the office said.

“Louisiana policyholders place great trust in the public adjusters they hire to handle their claims after a loss and deserve to have that trust honored,” Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said. “This kind of behavior will not be tolerated in the Louisiana insurance market.”

The department said Mitchell was licensed in Louisiana as a public adjuster on Dec. 10, 2020. The company’s website says it is headquartered in New Orleans and has an office in Clear Lake Shores, in Texas.

Auto repair shop owner guilty of second workplace scam

The owner of an auto repair shop in Kennewick, Wash., has pleaded guilty to a felony after failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees for the second time.

The state Department of Labor and Industries said Rodney Eugene Dietrich, 47, was sentenced to 30 days of electronic home surveillance by Benton-Franklin Superior Court Judge Norma Rodriguez.

The department said Dietrich employed two men at his store, Rod’s Cars, from November 2017 to May 2019. He did not provide workers’ compensation insurance as required by state law, a indicated the department.

One employee was paid in cash and another traded his labor for auto parts and other items, investigators said.

The department said Dietrich pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for the same offense in October 2016. He was again charged with a felony after two L&I investigators noticed employees working at the store, which was not not insured at the time.

Dietrich opened the store in 2004 but changed its name, business structure and business license three times after falling behind in paying workers’ compensation premiums, according to the department. He owes over $40,000 in late fees, interest and penalties. Dietrich also owes more than $2,200 in wages and penalties for failing to pay an employee in 2013, the department said.

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