LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Insurance agent Stephen Mark Gomez, 64, of Lake View Terrace, was arraigned this week on eight felony counts of grand theft and embezzlement after allegedly collecting over $148,000 in insurance premium payments from a client but failing to place insurance coverage on the client’s properties. The alleged crime was discovered after the victim’s property suffered a fire and the victim subsequently discovered he was uninsured.
“Gomez allegedly violated his fiduciary responsibility as a licensed agent and left his victim uninsured when he needed insurance the most,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “We will continue to use every resource available to stop unscrupulous agents from preying on customers. Criminal acts of those looking to degrade the trust of professional agents will not be tolerated.”
The California Department of Insurance found that Gomez, acting as the victim’s insurance agent, collected $148,749 in premium for Fire and General Liability Insurance for the victim’s properties between April 2012 and May 2018. Gomez collected the premium payments, issued invoices for fraudulent insurance policies, and issued bogus Declaration Pages to the victim as proof of insurance.
The victim became aware of the fraud when one of his properties suffered a structure fire on September 20, 2018. At the time of the fire, the victim thought he was insured as he was in possession of a Fire and General Liability Declaration Page as well as a renewal invoice for the same policy given to him by Gomez. The victim filed a claim with the insurance company only to find the insurance policy did not exist. The department’s investigation revealed that the insurance company never issued any policies for the victim nor was Gomez an appointed agent with the insurance company.
The Department of Insurance has initiated action against Gomez’s insurance license. An early disposition hearing is set for November 25, 2019. This case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.