Friday, December 14, 2012

Hole-in-one golf insurer extradited to face felony charges in WA

From a news release we sent out today:
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Connecticut businessman who insures golf tournament hole-in-one prizes but has a history of failing to pay has been extradited to Washington to face charges.

Kevin Kolenda, 55, of Norwalk, Conn., was flown from Connecticut to Washington under guard Thursday. He has been booked into the King County Jail. He’s expected to be arraigned Monday at King County Superior Court in Seattle.

“It’s rare that we have to go to these extremes to rein in a scammer,” said Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “But Mr. Kolenda’s been thumbing his nose at regulators for years. Arresting him seems to be the only way to get his attention.”

In August, Kolenda was charged in King County Superior Court with five counts of transacting insurance without a license, a class B felony. His arraignment was slated for Sept. 5, but he failed to show up. A judge issued a bench warrant for Kolenda’s arrest.

In addition to failing to show up in court, Kolenda also ignored a Washington cease-and-desist order in 2004 and a $125,000 fine in 2008.

On Sept. 26, Kolenda was arrested on the Washington bench warrant by police in Norwalk. He has been held since then in jail in Connecticut, pending extradition. His transfer to Washington was approved in November by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“I’m very grateful to everyone who’s helped us get Mr. Kolenda here to Washington to face justice,” said Kreidler. “He has a long history of selling illegal insurance and refusing to pay prize winners.”
In some cases, charities have had to come up with the prize money that Kolenda refused to pay. In others, the prize winners agreed to forgo 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.,, and currently 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.