Former Bksfd. agent arraigned for embezzlement

Posted at 11:35 AM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 14:35:36-04

Valerie Ann Verdugo of Bakersfield is scheduled to be arraigned today on felony insurance fraud charges for obtaining insurance coverage without paying the carrier on those policies for more than a decade.

"Verdugo allegedly used her position as a licensed insurance agent to take advantage of her insurer, which also happened to be her employer," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

The 38-year-old Verdugo, a licensed agent, surrendered herself to the Kern County Sheriff's Department and was booked on one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of embezzlement.

An investigation by the Department of Insurance's Investigations Branch uncovered evidence that while working for an insurance agency in Bakersfield, Verdugo would allow her own personal auto and homeowner policies to lapse when premiums were due and then simply write a new policy with minor changes to avoid detection by auditors.

When the premium was not paid and the policy lapsed again, Verdugo would allegedly repeat the transaction scheme. 

Evidence revealed Verdugo did the same for a number of friends and family, ultimately allowing more than 70 policies to lapse and then rewriting them.

According to investigators, Verdugo's scheme not only provided her with insurance coverage she did not pay for but led to Farmers insurance losing more than $11,000 in uncollected premiums for insurance coverage the company provided. 

The Kern County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this case. Department of Insurance investigators served Verdugo with a license suspension order on April 16, 2016.