On December 21 and December 26, 2018, respectively, Division of Insurance hearing officer, Kristina A. Gasson, entered orders and fines on Orders to Show Cause filed by the Division of Insurance against Rafael Sarabia, of San Antonio, Texas, Ledarius Dobie of Lakeland, Florida, and Deise E. Brito, of Warwick, Rhode Island (“Respondents”). The decisions were published on January 2, 2019, on the Division’s website after the three-day appeal period under G.L. c. 26, § 7, after which the Respondents right to appeal to the Commissioner of Insurance expired.
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. Sarabia $2,000, Mr. Dobie $2,000, and Ms. Brito $1500. 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 allegations in the Division’s Order to Show Cause that the hearing officer accepted regarding each of the Respondents were the following:
Rafael Sarabia—Hit-and-run felony conviction begins producer license revocations
Massachusetts licensed Mr. Sarabia as a nonresident insurance producer on July 14, 2014. The Division’s May 31, 2017 Order to Show Cause alleged Mr. Sarabia failed to advise the Division that on October 1, 2014, the Florida Department of Financial Services had denied him a license as a nonresident producer.
The Division also alleged he failed to report the actions of other states against his nonresident producer licenses including:
- The January 29, 2016 revocation by the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission of his nonresident producer license in that state;
- The March 9, 2016 suspension of his nonresident producer license by the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance;
- The August 18, 2016 revocation by the California Department of Insurance of his nonresident producer license.
The Division’s Order to Show Cause alleged Mr. Sarabia, by failing to timely report these administrative actions, violated M.G.L. c. 175, §162V(a), and that this violation supported the revocation of Mr. Sarabia’s Massachusetts producer license under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 175, §162R (a)(2) and (a)(9).
Although not part of the Division’s Order to Show Cause, the State of Maine also revoked Mr. Sarabia’s nonresident producer license on April 6, 2016, for falsely answering “No” to the background question on his application asking: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony, had a judgment withheld or deferred, or are you currently charged with committing a felony?”
The application’s answers were all signed under the penalty of perjury.
The Virginia, California, and Georgia administrative actions against Mr. Sarabia’s nonresident producer licenses all related to his failure to disclose that on October 26, 2009, he had pled guilty in the San Antonio District Court to a charge of “failing to stop and render aid” (hit-and-run) after an accident. Under the Texas Traffic Code, this crime was a third-degree felony.
After Mr. Sarabia failed to appear, the hearing officer granted a summary decision on Mr. Sarabia’s default, referencing the Florida refusal to issue him a nonresident producer license was “due to his felony conviction for Failure to Stop and Render Aid-Moving in the 187th District Court, Bexar County, Texas.”
She then entered the orders listed above and imposed a $2,000 fine.
Ledarius Dobie—Failure to report domestic violence and false imprisonment charges
Mr. Dobie obtained a nonresident producer’s license in Massachusetts on February 20, 2015, but the license was terminated on May 19, 2017, when he did not renew it.
The Division’s May 25, 2017 Order to Show Cause against Mr. Dobie alleged that he failed to report:
- an April 20, 2016 fine levied against him by the Louisiana Department of Insurance;
- two criminal charges made on May 29, 2016, in the Lakeland Florida District Court for false imprisonment, a felony, and domestic violence involving a battery, a misdemeanor;
- the November 16, 2016 revocation of his nonresident producer license by the State of California’s Department of Insurance;
- the November 18, 2016 sentence of 48 months of probation received on a plea bargain disposing of the false imprisonment and domestic violence charges against him;
- the January 20, 2016 revocation by the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission of his nonresident producer license in that state;
The Division alleged that Mr. Dobie, by failing to timely report these administrative actions violated M.G.L. c. 175, §162V(a), which required him to report to the Commissioner any administrative actions taken against his license in other jurisdictions and M.G.L. c. 175, §162V (b), which required him to report to the Commissioner any criminal prosecution taken against him in any jurisdiction within thirty days of the first pretrial proceedings.
The hearing officer first found that although Mr. Dobie had not renewed his nonresident producer license in 2017, he was still subject to disciplinary action because under M.G.L. c. 175, §162R (e) the Commissioner of Insurance retains the authority to enforce the provisions of and impose penalties or remedies against a person charged with violations of the licensing laws, M.G.L. c. 175, §§162H through 162X, even if that person’s license has lapsed by operation of law.
Based on Mr. Dobie’s failure to contest the Division’s Order to Show Cause, the hearing officer defaulted him and granted the Division a summary decision.
She entered the orders listed above and imposed a $2,000 fine. However, the collection of any fine may have to wait until at least the end of the year.
After his being put on probation for the 2016 charges, Mr. Dobie’s probation officer surrendered him twice for violation of his probation. On the second surrender, the judge revoked his probation and sentenced Mr. Dobie to a thirteen-month state prison sentence based his prior nolo contendere plea and conviction for false imprisonment. He is scheduled for release on December 11, 2019.
Deise Brito—Failure to report the least of her problems
Massachusetts licensed Ms. Brito as a nonresident insurance producer on May 14, 2014. She did not renew her license, and it terminated on December 12, 2016.
The Division’s April 10, 2017 Order to Show Cause alleged Ms. Brito failed to report:
- The revocation of her South Dakota nonresident producer license on April 14, 2016;
- The October 5, 2016 surrender of her New York nonresident producer license under a stipulation the surrender had the same effect as revocation; and
- The January 3, 2017 revocation by the Nevada Division of Insurance of her nonresident producer license.
Although not mentioned in the hearing officer’s decision, in 2015, the State of Rhode Island had commenced proceedings to revoke her producer license in that state. The proceeding had commenced based on the fact that Ms. Brito had “provided false information on her insurance producer license application regarding the existence of a prior felony conviction in another jurisdiction.
Ten-year sentence for aggravated assault
On October 30, 2015, the hearing officer, in that case, recommended a dismissal without prejudice as Ms. Brito had surrendered her license, and the Rhode Island Insurance Division did not wish to proceed.
What Ms. Brito had failed to report to any state where she held a nonresident producer license was that in May of 2013, she and three others had staged an armed robbery at the apartment complex in Georgia where she lived.
According to the police reports, Ms. Brito knocked on a couple’s front door claiming that there was an emergency. When the man opened the door, Ms. Brito, and the three men she was with, rushed into the apartment and pointed a gun at the couple upon which she and her accomplices, “threatened bodily harm if they did not comply” with demands for money.
While the three male accomplices stayed behind at the apartment and threatened to hurt the woman, Ms. Brito drove the man to another location to get more money.
The couple was not hurt except for their likely post-traumatic stress. Ms. Brito and the men were quickly arrested and charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault.
The grand jury indicted all the participants charging them with aggravated assault with intent to rob and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: To wit, a pistol.
On December 5, 2014, Ms. Brito received a ten-year sentence and a $1,000 fine. However, as a first-offender, the Court ordered only ten-months of prison followed by probation for the balance of the ten-year term.
The original revocation by South Dakota and New York were based on Ms. Brito failing to disclose or report these Georgia charges.
Massachusetts proceeds to revoke and impose fine
The Division alleged that Ms. Brito by failing to timely report these administrative actions violated M.G.L. c. 175, §162V(a), which required her to report to the Commissioner any administrative actions taken against her licenses in other jurisdictions. The Division’s Order to Show Cause did not include any violations of M.G.L. c. 175, §162V (b), whereby Ms. Brito should have reported to the Commissioner her pending criminal prosecution in Georgia.
The hearing officer found, as with Mr. Dobie, that although Ms. Brito had not renewed her nonresident producer license in 2017, she was still subject to disciplinary action because under M.G.L. c. 175, §162R (e) the Commissioner of Insurance retains the authority to enforce the provisions of and impose penalties or remedies against a person charged with violations of the licensing laws, M.G.L. c. 175, §§162H through 162X, even if that person’s license has lapsed by operation of law.
Based on Ms. Brito’s failure to contest the Division’s Order to Show Cause, the hearing officer defaulted her and granted the Division’s request for a summary decision. The hearing officer granted the orders requested by the Division listed above and imposed a $1,500 fine: $500 for each failure to report a jurisdiction’s administrative action.