OLYMPIA, Wash. _ A Connecticut businessman who specializes in insurance for golf tournament hole-in-one prizes has been charged with multiple felonies after repeatedly failing to pay up.
Kevin Kolenda, of Norwalk, Conn., was charged Wednesday in King County Superior Court with five counts of transacting insurance without a license, a class B felony. His arraignment is slated for Sept. 5.
Kolenda, 54, ignored a previous cease-and-desist order and a $125,000 fine from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
“We’ve been warning the public about Mr. Kolenda’s scam for years,” said Kreidler, whose Special Investigations Unit did the investigation that led to the charges. “He has a long history of selling illegal insurance, refusing to pay prize winners, and thumbing his nose at regulators.”
In some cases, charities have had to come up with the prize money. In others, the prize winners agreed to forego a prize.
Kolenda in 1995 started a business called Golf Marketing, working out of a home his parents owned in Norwalk. Since then, the business’ name has changed several times, including: Golf Marketing Worldwide LLC, Golf Marketing Inc., Hole-in-Won.com, and currently Hole-in-Won.com Worldwide. The company also has a regional office in Rye, N.Y.
Kolenda has repeatedly failed to pay winning golfers in Washington. Among them:
• In 2003, Kolenda illegally sold insurance for a tournament in Bremerton. But when a golfer got a hole in one and tried to claim the $10,000 prize, Kolenda wouldn’t pay.
• In 2004, Kolenda sold insurance for a Vancouver tournament. Again, a golfer got a hole in one. Kolenda refused to pay the $50,000 prize. After a hearing at which Kolenda failed to appear, he was ordered in 2008 to pay a $125,000 fine. He never did.
• In 2010, Kolenda sold coverage to pay $25,000 for a hole in one during a golf tournament in Snohomish. A player got a hole in one. His golf partners signed notarized forms attesting to the hole in one. The prize remains unpaid, despite numerous calls and emails from the partners and tournament officials.
Similar allegations have been made against Mr. Kolenda and/or his business in numerous other states, including Montana, Ohio, Georgia, California, New York, Hawaii, Alabama, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut and North Carolina.