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Judge Orders Trial For Insurance Broker In Fraud Case

By Gary Klien, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 31--A Marin insurance broker was ordered to stand trial on seven felony counts in a San Rafael fraud investigation, but a 32-year-old robbery conviction will not count as a "strike" under the three-strikes life sentence law.

Vincent Oliver Kehrlein, 57, of Fairfax remains free on bail pending trial. He is scheduled to return to court Sept. 18 to set further proceedings.

The charges stem from Kehrlein's work as owner of Above and Beyond Insurance Services/Kehrlein Insurance Agency at 1508 Lincoln Ave. in San Rafael. The alleged victims are Julia and Thomas Ghiglieri, who owned Pacific Garden Supply Inc. on Carlos Drive in north San Rafael.

In May 2009, Kehrlein brokered a one-year insurance policy for the Ghiglieris and their business, the prosecution said. Julia Ghiglieri wrote a $1,251.95 check to secure the policy, and Kehrlein cashed it.

Instead of using the money for the policy, Kehrlein allegedly forged Ghiglieri's name on a finance agreement that obligated the couple to a monthly payment schedule. Kehrlein made one monthly payment but no others, and the Ghiglieris' insurance policy was canceled without their knowledge, authorities allege.

In April 2010, Julia Ghiglieri gave Kehrlein another $1,556.72 to renew the supposed policy. Kehrlein allegedly deposited the funds into a personal account and created a false policy document that claimed the coverage was in effect for another year.

On Dec. 9, 2010, Pacific Garden Supply was damaged in a fire. Then the couple discovered they had no insurance coverage.

Kehrlein was arrested last September after an investigation by the Marin County District Attorney's Office, the San Rafael Police Department and the California Department of Insurance. He was charged with grand theft, filing false financial statements, forgery and theft of funds by a broker or agent.

After a preliminary hearing that ended Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Tauber ruled there was enough evidence to try Kehrlein on all counts, said Deputy District Attorney Thomas McCallister. The judge denied a defense motion to reduce the charges to misdemeanors, McCallister said.

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But the judge granted a defense motion not to count Kehrlein's 1982 robbery conviction in San Diego County as a strike under the three-strikes law.

"Both Mr. Kehrlein and I are grateful that Judge Tauber struck the strike, and we look forward to trying this case," said defense attorney Douglas Horngrad.

Horngrad said the evidence showed the fire at the business was linked to a marijuana grow. He said the business would not have been able to collect on the insurance policy anyway if an undeclared marijuana grow was the cause of the fire.

Kehrlein has been licensed with the California Department of Insurance since 1994. The license remains active and is up for renewal in July 2016.

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(c)2014 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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