The California Department of Insurance (CDI) has released information on Gregory Alan Steen’s 13 felony counts of embezzlement, another 13 felony counts of grand theft, as well as 12 felony counts of identity theft.
Mr. Steen, a 53-year old licensed insurance agent, allegedly used clients’ funds for his own benefit. The mishandling of client’s money involved three co-conspirators including Sara Vann, 37, of Studio City; Lisa Bennett, 44, of Fresno; and Patricia Ramirez, 40, of Clovis.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones came out with this statement, “The charges they are facing are not to be taken lightly and should make others think twice before assuming they can get away with swindling seniors.”
The investigation began when CDI was notified in March 2010 of Mr. Steen, a partner at Soutas and Associates Insurance Services LLC, and his alleged mishandling of clientele. Steen reportedly raised flags when he charged a client $1500 to oversee her elderly father’s Veteran Affairs benefits and annuity funds. Evidence from the investigation exposed Steen’s manipulation of seniors who granted him full access to their finances after making him the trustee over their trusts or the executor of their wills.
Steen went on to ignore customer expectations and disregard requests to disperse estates to intended beneficiaries. Investigators believe Steen misappropriated over $56,000 for personal benefit after targeting dozens of senior clientele. Furthermore, Steen and his culprits committed identity theft in order to obtain annuities. They would coach their victims into hiding assets in an effort to circumvent Medi-Cal eligibility rules and lower the share of cost of coverage.
Gregory Steen was arrested on January 30, 2014. However, even with a suspended license, Steen continued to swindle more clients after his arrest and release from jail. Potential loses in the case are rounding out just above one million dollars.
The charges, according to the Department of Insurance, are:
- Gregory Alan Steen, 53, Clovis, CA. 13 felony counts of grand theft, 13 felony counts of embezzlement, 12 felony counts of identity theft. Bail set at $620,000.
- Sara Vann, 37, Studio City, CA. 9 felony counts of identity theft. Bail set at $270,000.
- Patricia Ramirez, 40, Clovis, CA. 3 felony counts of grand theft, 3 felony counts of embezzlement, 1 felony count of identity theft. Bail set at $90,000.
- Lisa Bennett, 44, Fresno, CA. 2 felony counts of identity theft, 1 felony count of perjury. Bail set at $70,000.