An insurance agent in Tacoma has pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for misappropriating checks from dozens of policyholders.
Michel Anthony James, an independent contractor who was working for State Farm, is believed to have deposited checks from more than 40 policyholders into his own business bank account. State Farm discovered the problems when it audited James' accounts. It subsequently terminated its contract with James.
Based on a subsequent iinvestigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's Special Investigations Unit, James:
• failed to apply premiums to policies,
•wrongly withdrew cash from his premium fund account (which is where those policyholder checks were supposed to go),
•failed to refund overpayments to policyholders,
•and violated contractual agreements with State Farm.
The theft added up to $23,926.87.
On Jan. 13 in Pierce County Superior Court, he pleaded guilty to second-degree theft. He was sentenced to community service, electronic home monitoring and $1,800 in costs and assessments. He has also paid back the misappropriated money.
(Updated Feb. 1 to note that James no longer works for State Farm.)