- Danielle Halfon, of Palm Harbor, Florida:
- Joshua A. Vela, of Omaha, Nebraska;
- Sherita Brantley of Austin, Texas;
- Rodolfo Jimenez, of Miamisburg, Ohio; and,
- Valencia Ramsey of Oak Grove, Kentucky (“Respondents”).
The five decisions were all published on the Division’s website on December 12, 2017, after the three-day appeal period under G.L. c. 26, § 7, for the Respondents to appeal to the Commissioner of Insurance expired.
Orders barring any involvement with Massachusetts insurance business
In each of these cases, the hearing officer also entered orders on each order to show cause:
- revoking any licenses, including their nonresident producer licenses issued to the Respondents:
- ordering the return to the Division any license in their possession, custody or control;
- prohibiting the Respondents from directly or indirectly transacting any insurance business or acquiring, in any capacity whatsoever, any insurance business in Massachusetts; and
- ordering the Respondents to comply with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 175, §166B and dispose of any and all interests in Massachusetts as proprietor, partner, stockholder, officer or employee of any licensed insurance producer.
The hearing officer also fined each of the Respondents varying amounts. The hearing officer fined Mr. Jimenez $3,000, Mr. Vela $1,500, Ms. Brantley $1,000, Ms. Ramsey $1,000, and Ms. Halfon $500. All fines were ordered paid to the Division within 30 days.
All of the Respondents defaulted on the order to show cause filed by the Division against them. The underlying facts relating to the orders to show cause that the hearing officer accepted regarding each of the Respondents were the following:
Danielle Halfon—Conviction for grand theft bars her holding producer’s license
Ms. Halfon was licensed as a Massachusetts nonresident insurance producer on September 30, 2014. The Division’s order to show cause alleged Mr. Lainsey failed to report the revocation of her resident producer license, on September 30, 201t, by the Florida Department of Financial Services.
The Florida license revocation occurred after Ms. Halfon was charged in Clearwater, Florida on March 30, 2016, with stealing, “a man’s 18 karat gold ring with 14 round diamonds and three women’s rings” worth $30,000 from her boyfriend’s mother’s residence.
After her arrest, Ms. Halfon admitted she stole all four rings and had pawned them. After pleading guilty on June 27, 2017, Ms. Halfon was placed on probation for a term of five years and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution at the rate of $500 per month.
On July 14, 2016, the Florida Department of Financial Services requested the court papers for a “current investigation” on the insurance licenses held by Ms. Halfon. On September 30, 2016, the Department of Financial Services revoked Ms. Halfon’s resident producer license finding her third-degree felony conviction made her ineligible under Florida law from holding an insurance agent’s license.
After Ms. Halfon defaulted on the Division’s Order to Show Cause, the hearing officer entered a default. In imposing a fine from Ms. Halfon’s failure to report the Florida administrative action as required by Massachusetts law, the hearing officer declined to impose a civil penalty under M.G.L c. 176D, § 7, but did impose a fine under the general penalties provided in M.G.L. c. 175, §194, where the maximum fine loud of the section is $500 per violation.
The hearing officer imposed the maximum fine because she found her Ms. Halfon’s failure to report the Florida administrative actions action “enable[d] her to avoid prompt enforcement action in Massachusetts.” However, the fine imposed by the hearing officer probably has little, if any, chance of being collected. In December 2017, Ms. Halfon was surrendered on her probation for failing to meet with her probation officer and failing to make restitution. The court issued a warrant for her arrest and she is presently of parts unknown.
Rodolfo Jimenez—Failure to disclose criminal convictions
Massachusetts first licensed Mr. Jimenez as a nonresident producer on December 31, 2013. The Division’s December 30, 2016 order to show cause why Mr. Jimenez’ nonresident producer license should not be revoked alleged he had failed to report administrative actions against him by the states of Kentucky, North Dakota, Virginia, South Dakota and Nebraska as required by Massachusetts law.
Mr. Jimenez’ problems with administrative actions in these states began when the Kentucky Division of Insurance received a Termination of Producer Appointment notice from the Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Companies advising it the company had terminated Mr. Jimenez’s status as an agent for “untrue information on the application.”
Upon further inquiry, the Kentucky department learned that Mr. Jimenez had provided incorrect answers on his license application to the question asking if he “had ever been convicted of a crime that had not been previously reported to [the Division].” Mr. Jimenez had answered “No” to this question failing to disclose that he had previously pled guilty, on March 17, 1998, to a complaint charging him with possession of marijuana and had subsequently pled guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct on February 26, 2003.
When Mr. Jimenez failed to respond to Kentucky’s request for an explanation as to why his answer on his application had not been full complete and correct, the Division filed for a revocation of his nonresident producer license that was allowed on May 12, 2014. The other states involved in the order to show cause took steps to revoke his nonresident producer licenses based on either the false statements made on his application or for his failure to report the administrative action in Kentucky. These act the states and dates were:
On May 12, 2014, the Kentucky Division of Insurance revoked Mr. Jimenez’ nonresident producer license. The other states involved soon followed in revoking Mr. Jimenez’ license:
- North Dakota on June 19, 2014;
- Ohio (not mentioned in hearing officer’s decision) on June 30, 2014, through a voluntary surrender agreement;
- The Commonwealth of Virginia on July 10, 2014;
- Utah on July 25, 2014, though a voluntary surrender agreement;
- South Dakota on November 7, 2014; and
- Nebraska on December 21, 2015.
Mr. Jimenez reported none of the administrative proceedings to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance as required by law. After Mr. Jimenez failed to file any answer to the Massachusetts Division’s order to show cause, the hearing officer, upon motion of the Division, entered a default against Mr. Jimenez.
On the Division’s further motion for summary decision, the hearing officer found no disputed facts and entered the orders requested by the Division as set forth above except for the request of the Division to enter civil penalties under M. G. L. c. 176D, §7, of $1000 for per violation. The hearing officer found no basis to apply that statute since the violations alleged in the order to show cause took place outside Massachusetts. However, the hearing officer did fine Mr. Jimenez under M.G.L. c. 175, §194, the general statutory penalty applicable to anyone violating any part of the insurance laws. Under that statute the maximum fine is $500. Based upon Mr. Jimenez six violations the hearing officer imposed a total fine of $3000 against Mr. Jimenez.
In imposing the $3,000 fine, the hearing officer stated, “However, [Mr.] Jimenez, by failing to report six administrative actions against him, effectively avoided prompt enforcement action in Massachusetts. Therefore, I will impose the maximum $500 fine in accordance with M.G.L. c. 175, §194 for each of Jimenez’s six failures to report an administrative action.”
Joshua A. Vela—Misdemeanor convictions and financial irresponsibility
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance first licensed Mr. Vela as a nonresident insurance producer on August 7, 2015.
The Division’s December 20, 2016 order to show cause why his nonresident insurance producer license in Massachusetts should not be revoked, alleged Mr. Vela failed to report, as required by statute, the administrative actions against him by the states of Kansas, Louisiana, and Virginia.
The first state to take action against Mr. Vela was Kansas. On August 7, 2015, Mr. Vela had applied for nonresident producer license to the Kansas Division of Insurance. That Division quickly rejected Mr. Vela’s application notifying, notifying him on August 17, 2015 that his application had been rejected based upon:
“incomplete application information, convictions of multiple misdemeanors from 2007 through 2015, and a pattern of financial irresponsibility and disregard of regulatory authority demonstrated by the convictions.”
Mr. Vela requested a hearing on his application’s denial, but after he failed to comply with the initial prehearing conference order by not appearing, he was defaulted. Once Mr. Vela had defaulted, the Kansas Department issued a final order denying his application for cause.
On June 30, 2016, the Commonwealth of Virginia revoked his life nonresident producer’s license based upon him having “failing to report to the Commission within 30 calendar days administrative action was taken against [him] by the state of Kansas.”
On December 28, 2016, the South Dakota Division of Insurance also revoked Mr. Vela’s license because of his failure to report the administrative action taken by the state of Kansas.
On February 24, 2017, the state of Arkansas, suspended Mr. Vela’s nonresident producer license for his failure to renew his license that expired on May 31, 2016, in his home state of Nebraska.
As in the prior revocations, the Division sought to have the hearing officer impose $1,000 fines under M.G.L. c. 176D, §7, but the hearing officer refused. However, as in the prior orders to show cause, the hearing officer entered a total fine of $1500 based upon Mr. Vela’s failure to based upon M.G.L. c. 175, § 194, for failing to report the administrative actions in Kansas, Louisiana, and Virginia to the Massachusetts Division as required by law. No fine was imposed on the failure to report the proceeding in Arkansas as it was not listed as a violation in the order to show cause.
Valenzia Ramsey—Fraudulent claims information for sales bonus
Massachusetts first licensed Valenzia Ramsey as a nonresident producer on October 29, 2014. The Division based its November 28 order to show cause on why Ms. Ramses nonresident producer license should not be revoked on her failure to report administrative actions against her by her home state of Kentucky and the state of Idaho.
Ms. Ramses problems began like Mr. Jimenez’ problems did earlier with an insurance company, in this case Combined Insurance, reporting to the Kentucky Department of insurance a Termination of Producer Appointment alleging Ms. Ramsey’s agency appointment had been terminated for “unfair trade practices or fraud.”
As before the Kentucky Department initiated an investigation and concluded Ms. Ramsey had a shortage in her agent’s account of $2,343.83 as alleged by Combined Insurance and that since her first week in the field working for Combined Insurance, 36% of her written policies had failed to bill due to inaccurate credit card information and because of erroneous applicant information that could not be verified through the usual and customary manner using Lexis with many of agent’s applicants’ addresses and names appearing to be Ms. Ramsey’s relatives.
When the Division’s investigator sought an interview with Ms. Ramsey on the afternoon of December 28, 2015, Ms. Ramsey emailed her territory manager that morning and refused an interview.
The cancellation of the fraudulent policies led to chargebacks to Ms. Ramsey’s agency account of $6649 over a four-month period resulting in a total loss to the insurance company of $8992.83.
The Division found that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that the information contained in the applications were materially false as the names and addresses could not be verified and credit cards could not be billed. The Division found Ms. Ramsey “by generating insurance applications which [Ms. Ramsey] knew, or should have known, were materially false” Ms. Ramsey violated the insurance fraud statutes of Kentucky.
Based on the evidence and Ms. Ramsey failure to response, the Kentucky Division of Insurance revoked Ms. Ramsey resident producers license effective April 7, 2016.014.
On June 21, 2016, the state of Idaho Department of Insurance revoked Ms. Ramses license based upon her failure to maintain her resident producers her resident producers license in her home state.
Ms. Ramsey failed to report either of these administrative actions to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance as required by law.
In this case, the hearing officer again imposed the maximum $500 fine allowed by M.G.L. c. 175, §194 but denied the Division’s request for the more substantial penalties allowed under M.G.L. c. 176D, § 7.
Again, the hearing officer justified fines based upon Ms. Ramsey “failing to report to administrative actions against her, committed two violations of M.G.L. c. 175, §162(V)” Of the and impose the maximum 500 05 each of her failures to report the administrative actions taken against her.
Sherika Brantley—Submitting false application information to receive bonus
The Division of Insurance licensed Ms. Brantley as a nonresident insurance producer on October 16, 2015. The Division’s order to show cause on March 1, 2017 alleged that Ms. Brantley failed to report two administrative proceedings against her by the states of North Dakota and Louisiana revoking her insurance producer licenses i those jurisdictions. The order to show cause, as the other orders to show cause mentioned in this article, contended Ms. Brantley by failing to timely report these actions violated M.G.L. c. 175, §162V(a).
Ms. Brantley first lost her nonresident insurance producer’s license by the action of the state of North Dakota. The insurance Department of North Dakota filed a complaint against her after receiving on May 23, 2016, a notice from the Amico Mutual Insurance Company of her termination as a licensed producer for the company “for cause.” Amica Mutual stated the cause for the termination resulted from an investigation that concluded Ms. Brantley “knowingly and purposefully manipulated customer transactions for her own personal gain in order to avoid losing a sales credit toward a monthly bonus.”
The North Dakota Division of Insurance advised Ms. Brantley of her right to a hearing but she did not respond and the Division defaulted her and revoked her license in that state on October 17, 2016.
Following the revocation by North Dakota, the state of Louisiana began a proceeding against Ms. Brantley’s nonresident insurance producer license based upon information offered by Amica Mutual supporting its allegation that Ms. Brantley had “submitted insurance applications containing false information in order to receive commissions.” Also, the order to show cause from Louisiana specified the revocation of Ms. Brantley’s license by the state of North Dakota which she had not reported to Louisiana. Again, Ms. Brantley defaulted and the Commissioner of Insurance for Louisiana revoked her license effective November 22, 2016.
On March 30, 2017, the state of South Dakota after initiating proceedings against Ms. Brantley for her failure to respond to that states Division of Insurance, her failure to timely report the administrative actions, and her “demonstrating incompetence, untrustworthiness, or financial irresponsibility in the conduct of business in the state or elsewhere” revoked her nonresident producer license.
In Ms. Brantley’s case, as in the prior cases, the Division’s request to impose $1,000 fines pursuant to M.G.L. c. 176D, §7, was denied. The hearing officer entered a total fine of $1,000 under M.G.L. c. 175, § 194, based upon Mr. Vela’s failure to report the administrative actions in North Dakota and Louisiana. No fine was imposed because of her failure to report the South Dakota proceeding as it was not part of the violations listed in the order to show cause.