Insurance Fraud ‘Ringleader’ Sentenced To 3 Years Behind Bars
Palatka Daily News (FL)
A Volusia County man court officials say was the ringleader in an insurance fraud scheme netting nearly $300,000 was given prison time and more than a decade of probation.
Walter Malet, 32, was sentenced to three years in prison for his part in defrauding his former employer, Security First Insurance Co., dating back to August 2018, according to a statement from the 7th Judicial Circuit.
Malet was also sentenced to 12 years of probation, court officials said.
For more than a year, Mallet and other Security First employees issued 90 expense checks totaling $262,559.45 “to illicit or ghost vendors,” according to the 7th Judicial Circuit, which oversees Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
“An internal investigation initially revealed that this scheme was executed by the employee’s misuse of the SFI claim system allowing them to reopen closed insurance claims, authorize payment to ghost vendors and close the insurance claims without any further supervisory review,” 7th Judicial Circuit Executive Director Bryan Shorstein said in a statement. “Although Malet was the mastermind, a total of 11 people were charged in the scheme.”
All 11 suspects were charged with grand theft of over $100,000, a first-degree felony, while one other co-defendant, Ernest Jerome Green, has been charged with money laundering.
Officials said six of the cases are pending, but the rest of the defendants have pleaded guilty.
Circuit officials championed the state’s relationship with Security First, saying white-collar cases can be difficult to convict without public and private sectors working together.
“This case is a shining example of the private sector partnering with the State Attorney’s Office to investigate and successfully prosecute a complex and sophisticated group of thieves,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in a statement. “Our combined efforts are holding the defendants accountable while working to keep insurance costs down.
“As (our) state continues to grow, so will the efforts of schemers and fraudsters. We must continue to attack scams, fraud and schemes whenever and wherever they rear their ugly head.”
Locke Burt, Security First’s chairman and CEO, also valued the working relationship between his company and the court system.
Burt encouraged people who suspect suspicious insurance activity to contact the authorities so insurance costs can stay low and companies and individuals don’t fall victim to scammers.
“We enjoyed working together with the prosecutors and investigators in the 7th Circuit who dug in and dedicated a lot of time to see this prosecution through,” Burt said in a statement. “We want the people of Florida to understand how important these cases are to everyone in Florida, and if you see fraud, report fraud.”