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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Insurance Company Broker Caught Cooking the Books

NJ Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that an employee of a former Morris County insurance brokerage company pleaded guilty today to stealing several million dollars entrusted to her employer. These funds had been entrusted to the insurance brokerage for the purpose of purchasing insurance policies for small and medium-sized businesses in New Jersey and New York.

Kelly Roetto, 45, of Bedminster, pleaded guilty to an accusation charging her with second-degree theft by unlawful taking, second-degree issuing bad checks, and second-degree misconduct by a corporate official before Superior Court Judge Thomas V. Manahan in Morris County.
Judge Manahan scheduled sentencing for Dec. 19.Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Roetto be sentenced to nine years in state prison. In addition, Roetto will be ordered to pay restitution and will agree to never again obtain an insurance license in the State of New Jersey.

“This defendant used her position of trust within this insurance brokerage firm to divert millions of dollars,” Attorney General Chiesa said. “My office will continue to work with the insurance industry to root out corrupt insurance brokers.”

“This crime attacked the integrity of our insurance system by deceiving both companies seeking insurance and companies that finance such insurance,” Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi said. “Such crimes warrant vigorous prosecution and serious sanctions.”

At the time of the crime, Roetto was the controller for a now-defunct insurance brokerage called the John A. Rocco Co., Inc. (JarCo), located in Florham Park. JarCo was in the business of obtaining insurance policies on behalf of small and medium-sized trucking, hauling, waste management, moving, and recycling businesses located in New Jersey and New York. As part of its operations, JarCo would arrange for these businesses to finance the cost of such insurance policies, and used its existing relationships with numerous premium finance companies for this purpose. In her capacity as the Controller for JarCo, Roetto was responsible for arranging this financing and for ensuring that the borrowed funds were forwarded from JarCo’s bank accounts to the insurance carriers or their respective agents.

In pleading guilty, Roetto admitted that between January 1, 2008 and May 28, 2010, she used her position as JarCo’s controller to steal between $3,800,000 and $5,000,000 of financed proceeds. The state’s investigation revealed that Roetto was able to perpetrate these offenses by capitalizing on the complexity of the premium finance transaction process using a combination of different schemes.  For example, Roetto admitted that she knew that these finance companies sent financed proceeds to JarCo with the understanding that they would be used to purchase insurance policies on behalf of businesses seeking coverage.  She further admitted that on numerous occasions she failed to send this money to the carriers and, instead, exercised unlawful control over such money by using it for a purpose other than its intended purpose.

Roetto also admitted that she caused unauthorized finance agreements to be submitted to these finance companies and that she used the proceeds obtained in connection with these unauthorized agreements for unlawful purposes. In addition, Roetto admitted that she used her position to issue more than 200 bad checks totaling more than $2,000,000.  These checks were drawn on many of JarCo’s bank accounts at not fewer than 10 banks.

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