On January 31st of this year, Mr. Burke submitted a Uniform Application for an Individual Producer License/Registration with the Division of Insurance. On March 25, 2011, Diane Silverman Black, the DOI’s Director of Producer Licensing sent a letter to Mr. Black denying his application because of his seven prior felony convictions. Those convictions included:
- carjacking (June 29, 1999);
- larceny of motor vehicle (May 8, 1996);
- possession of burglarious tools (May 8, 1996)
- robbery, unarmed, over 65 (May 21, 1996);
- breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony (May 21, 1996);
- assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (September 13, 1995); and
- armed robbery (April 19, 1989).
In addition, the Producer Licensing Director informed Mr. Burke that “[a]lthough your license has been denied for more than one conviction, be advised that I may have denied your license independently for each conviction listed.” She also informed him that he could request a hearing with the DOI to appeal this decision.
Mr. Burke chose to appeal this decision and did so on March 29, 2011. After two pre-hearing conferences on April 25th and May 11th respectively, the DOI held a hearing on the matter on June 13th of last month. The hearing officer reviewed the case noting that the Producer Licensing Director had denied Mr. Burke’s application for an insurance producer license pursuant to G.L. c. 175 §162R(a)(6). This is a Massachusetts statute or law which invests the Commissioner with the following powers:
(a) The Commissioner may …refuse to issue…an insurance producer’s license…. for any 1 or more of the following causes:-…
(6) having been convicted of a felony.
Mr. Burke who acknowledged and did not dispute the existence of his seven convictions during his April 25, 2011 pre-hearing conference argued instead at the June hearing that it was the age of the seven convictions rather than their existence which was at issue. In particular, he argued that his convictions could not “…reasonably constitute a basis for denying him an insurance producer’s license because they did not involve fraudulent activity, embezzlement, fraud, larceny by check, misappropriation of funds, or similar behavior, and had no nexus to the insurance business.”
In response, the DOI said that the statute, G.L. c. 175 §162R(a)(6), does not limit the time in which an applicant’s past felony may be considered in reviewing an application for a producer’s license. Nor does the statute limit its restrictions to any particular type of felony or to criminal acts involving the business of insurance. As such, the DOI hearing officer found that the Director of Producer Licensing had acted within the scope of her powers and duties in denying Mr. Burke’s application for an individual producer’s license pursuant to his prior felony convictions notwithstanding the passage of time in which those events had occurred.
A copy of the complete decision, Docket No. E2011-04; Paul Burke v. Division of Insurance is available here.