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Muskegon Insurance Agent Charged with Embezzling Clients' Money Pleads Guilty
June 23, 2021
LANSING - A Muskegon insurance agent charged with fraud and embezzling his clients' money has pleaded guilty, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox announced today.
In February, Charles Booker, Jr., 63, was arraigned on the following charges:
- three counts of embezzlement by an agent or trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a felony punishable by five years' imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine, or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater;
- one count of insurance fraud, a four-year felony and/or a $50,000 fine; and
- using a computer to commit a crime, which is a felony punishable by seven years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine in this instance.
The Attorney General's office alleged that between October 2014 and June 2016 Booker collected insurance premiums from 42 clients but failed to remit the premiums to Farmers Insurance. Instead, Booker converted the money to his own use.
He also allegedly applied money he collected in premiums from three clients to the policies of several other clients whose premiums he did not remit to the insurer.
Wednesday morning before Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes in Muskegon County's 60th District Court, Booker pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor embezzlement by an agent of $200 or more but less than $1,000.
He also paid $13,764 in restitution prior to entering the guilty plea. Booker further signed a written acknowledgement that he engaged in insurance fraud and that he was not eligible to seek re-licensure as an insurance agent.
Farmers Insurance honored the affected insurance policies, so Farmers Insurance was the victim of Booker's conduct.
"My office continues to work alongside DIFS to ensure Michiganders who entrust their finances to insurance agents can be confident their money is being used as intended," Nessel said. "I'm proud of the work done to ensure accountability in this case. It should serve as a reminder that we stand ready to pursue justice against anyone who violates our laws."
"We are pleased to continue our strong partnership with the Attorney General to successfully prosecute criminals like Mr. Booker," Fox said. "DIFS is committed to holding those who commit fraud accountable, and the public can help by contacting us at Michigan.gov/ReportFraud2DIFS or by calling Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-999-6442."
In addition to the restitution, the judge ordered Booker to pay $1,500 in fines and costs as his sentence.
DIFS' Fraud Investigation Unit investigates criminal and fraudulent activity related to the insurance and financial markets and refers cases to the Attorney General and law enforcement for prosecution of criminal activity. Suspected insurance fraud can be reported to DIFS safely, easily and, in most cases, anonymously by calling 877-999-6442 or online by visiting the department's website.