WASHINGTON STATE OFFICE OF THE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER v. ELLA HIPES DBA MEASURED WEALTH CORP is an ongoing Washington state administrative action. In April 2017, the Insurance Commissioner issued a CEASE AND DESIST ORDER to Ethel Ella Hipes, age 61, of Spokane, Washington, an UNLICENSED insurance agent in the state of Washington, ordering her to:
Cease and Desist from engaging in or transacting the unauthorized business of insurance in the state of Washington; Seeking, pursuing and obtaining any insurance business in the state of Washington; Soliciting Washington residents to sell any insurance issued or to be issued by an unauthorized insurer; Soliciting Washington residents to induce them to purchase any insurance contract.
Ella Hipes, along with a second allegedly unlicensed insurance salesperson named ***Justin W. Smith, were alleged to have sold four annuities for nearly $600,000.00 to three Washington state consumers. Hipes allegedly retained nearly $35,000.00 of the commission, while paying over $4,400.00 of the commission to Justin Smith. The Order was issued after Hipes failed to respond to all inquiries from the insurance commissioner, and refused delivery of the final notification letter. Thereafter, Ella Hipes sought and was granted a "stay" of the Order pending an administrative hearing. Outcome pending.
*** We do not know the age or other identifying info for the "Justin W. Smith" associated with Ethel Ella Hipes, but in April 2007, in Spokane, Washington, "a" Justin W. Smith, then age 45, was arrested on the charge of FIRST DEGREE CHILD MOLESTATION, after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 10 year-old girl. Outcome unknown.
TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND INSURANCE v. ETHEL ELLA HIPES and BRITTANY HIPES was a 2015-16 Tennessee administrative action in which the Insurance Agent licenses of Ethel E. Hipes, and her daughter, Brittany Hipes, both then of Knoxville, Tennessee, were REVOKED, and each party was issued a civil penalty of $14,000.00 relating to 14 counts of FRAUD, DISHONESTY, INCOMPETENCE, etc.
The "childless" victim, Anna Kirin Davies, became acquainted with Ethel Hipes and her daughter, Brittany Hipes, while all three were attending the Venice, Florida Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, sometime around the death of Davies' husband, Carl Davies, in 1998, and the settlement of the lawsuit resulting from such, in the amount of $488,544.00, in 1999.
In 2003, insurance agent Ethel E. Hipe (aka Ethel Ella Therrell, aka Ethel E. Therrell, aka Ethel Ella Barnhouse, aka Ethel E. Barnhouse) sold a $250,000.00 annuity to Anna Davies, then age 75. The Hipes relocated to South Carolina in 2003. In 2004, Anna Davies purchased the Hipes home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and relocated there. In 2007, Ethel Hipes, then age 51, married Allen Wayne Therrell, then age 57, of Greenville, SC. In 2009, the "Hipes" relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee. In 2012, the "Hipes" moved back to Greenville, SC.
In December 2012, Ethel Hipes sold to Anna Davies, then age 84, two separate deferred annuities in the amounts of $100,000.00 and $80,000.00. Six weeks later, after convincing Davies to cash those two annuities, Hipes sold Davies two more annuities ("churning") in the same amounts with a different company. In November 2013, Hipes sold four more annuities (amounts unknown) to Davies. The Hipes thereafter moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee.
In March 2014, the Hipes moved the nearly-dead 86 year-old Anna Davies to their home in Knoxville. Davies died in November 2014. Three weeks after moving Davies into the Hipes home in Knoxville, "someone" allegedly forged Davies name to a durable Power of Attorney, which named Ella Hipes as POA. When Davies had to be admitted to UT Medical Center in May 2014, because she was not being given her diabetes medicine, Ella Hipes allegedly told staffers that she was Davies' daughter. Hipes also signed all medical documents for Davies as her POA.
Allegedly, while Davies was hospitalized, Ella Hipes also forged Davies signature and changed the "Beneficiary" of the two annuities totaling $180,000.00 making her own daughter, Brittany Hipes, the Beneficiary. Hipes allegedly also forged a withdrawal of $18,612.00 from the two annuities. That money was placed into a Davies checking account in July 2014. The next day, Hipes allegedly wrote herself a check from that account in the amount of $15,000.00, and thereafter allegedly used the balance to pay over $3000.00 of Hipes' own personal expenses. During the last six months of Davies' life, Hipes also allegedly placed over $7000.00 of her own purchases on Davies' credit card. In June and July 2014, Ella Hipes allegedly used COERCION AND UNDUE INFLUENCE to convince Anna Davies to sign two different WILLs -- each of which named Ella Hipes as the"Beneficiary", and Brittany Hipes as the contingent beneficiary. The Hipes also attempted but failed to cash in the two discussed annuities just prior to Davies' death.
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE v. ETHEL ELLA HIPES. In June 1999, Ethel E. Hipes was fined $500.00 for selling insurance in the state of Florida, while both residing in Florida and while having a place of business in Florida, but while being licensed only as a "Non-Resident" Insurance Agent.
UNITED STATES v. ROBERT DAVIS and CARRIE DAVIS ET AL was a 1949-51 Indiana federal criminal prosecution of Robert Davis, age 43, and his wife, Carrie Davis, age 67, of Indianapolis, Indiana, whom had been prominent Jehovah's Witness activists during the "Central Indiana Disturbances" of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Around 1940, Robert Davis was disfellowshipped for unknown reasons, and even sued some JW Elders whom Davis claimed had assaulted him at an Indianapolis Kingdom Hall. However, by the time of this prosecution in 1951, Davis again was being reported to be a Jehovah's Witness Minister.
The Davises operated a NATIONWIDE SCAM called COORDINATIVE MEDICINES ASSOCIATION INC., which provided without cost dangerous concoctions of then inexpensive herbals to as many as 5000 "members" who "donated" $10.00 per month to join the association. This was a unique form of insurance scam. Although "members" were scattered across the United States, most of the Davises "patients" were ignorant poor whites and African-Americans living in the southern U.S. We did not find any source pointing to those "members" being "Jehovah's Witnesses", but one could assume that the Davises likely targeted JWs.
Robert Davis openly used the title "Doctor", despite having no medical training nor education. When confronted with such by the authorities, Davis then claimed to be a "Doctor of Homeopathy", which also proved to be false. The Davises also maintained a retail storefront in Indianapolis, where they advertised that a "Registered Physician" was on staff to analyse patient complaints and prescribe the correct herbal remedy. Davis' storefront also offered most other "quack" health treatments -- iridology, water therapy, light therapy, heat therapy, physical therapy, "adjustments", etc.
The Davises had been operating this scam since at least 1944. It was not until the late 1940s that the federal government began investigating the Davises. Federal laws regarding such scams were inadequate during the 1940s. The Davises only were charged with ten counts of "misbranding" nutritional supplements. The victims scammed by the Davises refused to believe that they were being defrauded even when confronted with the evidence of such. Most continued to believe that they had been helped by the Davises. Some "patients" even appeared at the trial as defense witnesses. Multiple medical professionals testified for the prosecution that Davis' concoctions were at best worthless, and at worst were potentially dangerous.
In the end, a friendly local federal judge convicted the Davises only on two counts of selling misbranded nutritional supplements via interstate commerce. They were fined a total of $2200.00, and sentenced to two years in prison. That sentence was immediately suspended, and the Davises were placed on three years probation. Thereafter, Robert Davis possibly became an audiologist in Indianapolis. (There supposedly is a major hearing aid company in the upper midwest which is owned and operated by Jehovah's Witnesses, and employs JWs around the United States.)
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF UNINSURABLE, SICK AMERICANS SCAMMED FOR YEARS
BY TEXAS JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES SELLING FAKE HEALTH INSURANCE
A recent, and possibly current, WATCHTOWER BETHELITE named Jeffrey Malone, aka Jeff Malone, previously of the Arlington, Texas area, once held significant responsibilities and corporate titles -- President, Director, Officer, etc. -- with multiple intertwined but now defunct Texas corporations which had been under multiple state investigations since 2004, or earlier, and was finally forced out of business in 2012 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Jeffrey Malone is believed to have been the President of the IAB Group of companies since around 1989. It is not known when Jeff Malone stopped running IAB on a daily basis, or when Jeff Malone and his wife, Karen Malone, went to work at WatchTower World HQ in Brooklyn, New York, but Jeffrey Malone was still listed as a Corporate Director on the 2011 IRS 990 linked below.
These intertwined corporations include but are not limited to the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS,INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES, INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES(2011 - IRS 990), INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AGENCIES INC. OF DELAWARE, and INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AGENCY. (Some of these corporate names are also used in similar incorporations in multiple individual states. If readers have a difficult time keeping straight the three similar IAB -- don't feel bad. Even one of IAB's Florida sales agents publicly stated the name incorrectly on multiple occasions.)
One can only wonder how many of the individuals named in the plethora of state and federal legal documents relating to this now defunct interstate "Not-Health Insurance" alleged Marketing SCAM were/are also "exemplary Jehovah's Witnesses". IAB had multiple affiliates and sales agents scattered across the United States, and it takes zero stretch of the imagination to assume that some of those individuals were fellow Jehovah's Witnesses of the President of the company. Jeff Malone also has a son with the same/similar name, thus it is not known if or how he may have been connected to IAB. Notably, an "Andrea Malone" aka"Andrea Brown Malone" (??Malone's daughter-in-law??) is included as a Director/Officer in multiple legal documents relating to IAB, including the 2011 IRS 990 linked above.
Sometime prior to 2011, the Malone Family appears to have been replaced in its day-to-day operation of the IAB companies by the Wood Family, also of the Greater Dallas-Forth Worth area. INTERESTINGLY, the WOOD FAMILY is a large, extended family of Jehovah's Witnesses -- dating back to the early 20th century (possibly to Russell's days). Despite the fact that James Wood founded IAB around 1982, neither James C. Wood or other Wood Family members consistently show up on 21st century IAB legal filings that we have found until around 2011. Significantly, neither Jeff Malone, Andrea Malone, nor any of their immediate Malone Family relatives are named in any of the federal court legal filings -- not as a Defendant, or otherwise -- despite the fact that the FTC makes note of the fact that IAB's illegal activities date back to 2005 (see multiple state investigations/actions posted below). However, six Wood Family members are named as Defendants in the 2012 FTC civil prosecution linked below -- James Wood (father), Tressa Wood (mother), James J. Wood (son), Michael Wood (son), Gary Wood (James Clayton Wood's brother), and Suzanne Wood.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES, JAMES CLAYTON WOOD, TRESSA KAY WOOD, JAMES JOSHUA WOOD, MICHAEL JACOB WOOD, GARY D. WOOD, AVIS SUZANNE WOOD, ET AL. Despite multiple state investigations, multiple state agency actions, and one state court case (some of which are linked below), the aforementioned corporations continued doing business until 2012, when the Federal Trade Commission finally put them out of business. Click link to read voluminous details. Will appointed IAB "Receiver", Charlene Koonce "clawback" past donations made to the WatchTower Cult???
Alleged Fraudsters Stole Millions of Dollars from Consumers Seeking Health Insurance
October 2014 FTC Press Release (edited)
A group of marketers who allegedly tricked consumers into buying phony health insurance are permanently banned from selling healthcare-related products under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The settlement resolves claims that the defendants, who operated as the bogus trade association Independent Association of Businesses (IAB), preyed on consumers who sought health insurance. Consumers submitted their contact information to websites purportedly offering quotes from health insurance companies. They paid an initial fee ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars, and a monthly fee ranging from $40 to $1,000 purportedly for comprehensive health insurance coverage, but instead they were enrolled in an IAB membership. The program included purported discounts on services such as identify-theft protection, travel, and roadside assistance, as well as certain purported healthcare related benefits, including limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals, subject to broad exclusions and limitations.
In 2012, the FTC charged the IAB defendants and those who ran IAB's largest telemarketing operation with violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). A federal court halted the operation until the case was resolved. A settlement order announced in 2013 bans the telemarketing defendants from selling healthcare-related products.
The settlement order announced today permanently bans the remaining defendants from selling healthcare-related products. They are IAB Marketing Associates LP, Independent Association of Businesses, HealthCorp International Inc., JW Marketing Designs LLC, International Marketing Agencies LP, International Marketing Management LLC, Wood LLC, James C. Wood, his sons, James J. Wood and Michael J. Wood, and his brother, Gary D. Wood. It also resolves the FTC's claims against relief defendant Tressa K. Wood, James C. Wood's wife, who benefited from but did not participate in the alleged scheme.
The order also prohibits the defendants from violating the TSR, misrepresenting material facts about any goods or services, and selling or otherwise benefiting from consumers' personal information.
The order imposes a $125 million judgment that will be partially suspended once the defendants surrender assets valued at almost $2 million, including $502,000 in IRA funds and personal property that includes five luxury cars (a Lamborghini, two Mercedes, a Porsche, and an MG Roadster). A separate settlement order requires relief defendant Avis. K. Wood to pay $60,000 from an IRA account that was funded by the defendants' allegedly unlawful activities.
In this Augusr 2008 BIZJOURNALS magazine article, the operator of United States Benefits LLC, named Timothy Thomas, is quoted as telling that reporter that the Nashville, Tennessee based UNITED STATES BENEFITS LLC was the "marketing arm" of Arlington, Texas based INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION v. UNITED STATES BENEFITS ET AL was a 2010-11 Tennessee federal civil prosecution which basicly put this reported IAB affiliated Nashville, Tennessee insurance marketing company out-of-business, and fined the business $15,738,941.00.
UNITED STATES v. TIMOTHY THOMAS and KENNAN DOZIER THOMAS is an ongoing 2014-16 Tennessee federal prosecution of the owners/operators of UNITED STATES BENEFITS. Timothy Thomas, age 52, was indicted on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and criminal contempt. Tim Thomas' wife, Kennan Dozier Thomas, age 56, faces charges of money laundering and criminal contempt. The contempt charges are based on the Thomas' transfer of funds, in violation of an order freezing assets of USB. Outcome unknown.
TEXAS v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS FKA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES was a 2005-06 Texas court case in which the Attorney General of Texas alleged that IAB had engaged in"false, deceptive and misleading acts and practices", in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act. IAB was also alleged to have violated the Texas Telemarketing Disclosure and Privacy Act by failing to include proper notice provisions in its solicitations. The Texas OAG and IAB reached a settlement in which IAB was permanently enjoined from numerous specified violations of Texas law, and ordered to pay $150,000.00 in fines/costs.
ILLINOIS v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS ET AL was a 2005-06 Illinois court case in which the Attorney General of Illinois alleged fraud, misleading sales practices, etc. The Illinois OAG and IAB reached a settlement in which IAB was permanently enjoined from numerous specified violations of Illinois law, and ordered to pay $100,000.00 in fines/costs.
IN RE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS ET AL was a 2010-11 Montana administrative action which resulted in a conditionally suspended $5000.00 fine, but IAB was ordered to pay $3500.00 costs based on alleged violations which occurred in 2008.
IN RE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS was a 2007 Florida administrative action which resulted in $9000.00 fine/costs imposed on IAB after the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation discovered numerous violations of the Florida Insurance Code after a review in 2006. Note that "Jeffrey Malone" is still indicated as "President" in November 2007. Also note that signature of IAB's Executive Vice-President has been "hidden" on this public copy.
WASHINGTON v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS, AKA INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES, FKA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESSES, INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL MARKETING AGENCIES INC OF DELAWARE, JEFFREY MALONE, ET AL was a CEASE and DESIST ORDER issued in February 2012 by the State of Washington Insurance Commissioner. Jeffrey Malone and Andrea Brown Malone were named as two of the multiple Respondents in this Order given their positions as CORPORATE DIRECTORs. Outcome unknown.
CALIFORNIA v. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BENEFITS wss a 2005 CEASE and DESIST ORDER issued by the Department of Managed Health Care, which had determined that per California law that the unlicensed IAB was marketing Health Insurance products to California consumers. Outcome unknown.
Both the states of Indiana (2009) and Alaska (2005 and 2007) each issued Cease and Desist Orders against IAB which were eventually rescinded. In the case of Indiana, IAB was fined $500.00 and issued a license as a "Discount Medical Program Organization". It is possible that California also eventually licensed IAB as a "DMPO", but Washington did not. It is possible that some states chose to license "DMPOs", while other states would not do such.
ALFA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY v. DANIEL S. GREGERSON and JOHN THEODORE GREGERSON ET AL (1993) and PATTERSON v. CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF ANNISTON ET AL (1995) are related Supreme Court of Alabama decisions which involve multiple members of the PROMINENT Alabama GREGERSON FAMILY of Jehovah's Witnesses. The additional defendants, William Thomas Harris and Jeffery Mark West, may also have been Jehovah's Witnesses, at that time, given William T. Harris's intimate business relationship with Dan Gregerson, and Jeffery M. West's employment relationship with the Gregersons.
Dan Gregerson and Ted Gregerson, father/son and both Jehovah's Witness Elders, were equal partners in a then unincorporated partnership located in Glencoe, Alabama, known as CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF GLENCOE. Dan Gregerson and Ted Gregerson also owned a similar unincorporated business in Anniston, Alabama, known as CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF ANNISTON, along with family members Julie Gregerson, Ronald P. Gregerson, John Gregerson, and Jason Gregerson.
William Harris owned a cargo van on which Harris had purchased routine automobile liability insurance coverage which protected Harris, members of the Harris household, and anyone whom Harris or his household gave permission to temporarily operate that van. In October 1991, a vehicle operated by Kevin Patterson stalled on an Alabama highway. Patterson got out of his vehicle to check under the hood. While standing in front of his vehicle, Patterson was seriously injured when his stalled vehicle was rear-ended by the cargo van owned by William Thomas Harris. Interestingly, at the time of the accident, the Harris cargo van was being driven by Jeffery Mark West, who at that time was working as an employee of CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF GLENCOE, and Jeff West was on his way out-of-state to Dalton, Georgia, to pick up a load of carpet for the Gregersons.
When Kevin Patterson sued all of the defendants in October 1993, they sought liability coverage under William Harris's personal automobile insurance policy. Alfa Insurance Company then filed this declaratory judgment action in which it denied coverage to all of the defendants, because Harris's policy specifically excluded coverage for any vehicle while it was "rented to others". During that trial, it was revealed that from May 1991 through October 1991, that CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES had made seven of William Harris's van payments directly to Harris's bank. During that same period of time, CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES also had given Harris a check in the amount of $125.30 for "truck insurance".
(Readers should first note that, since the Gregersons gave William Harris only one check in the amount of $125.30 for "truck insurance" during the aforementioned 7 month time period, then $125.30 was probably Harris's 6-month insurance premium on the cargo van. Readers should second note that, since there was an outstanding loan on William Harris's cargo van, then that $125.30 six month premium included not only liability coverage, but FULL comprehensive and collision coverage. Even back in 1991, a Commercial Truck insurance policy providing Liability and Full Coverage insurance for a cargo van being used in interstate trucking operations would have cost MORE than $125.30 per month -- much less for six months. We don't believe for a second that all of the involved parties were stupid enough to believe that it was okay to leave that cargo van on Harris's Alfa Insurance Company policy and simply reimburse Harris for the original premium that he was being charged by Alfa. Alfa Insurance Company was DEFRAUDED as to whom actually possessed that van, DEFRAUDED as to how that cargo van was being used, and DEFRAUDED as to whom regularly operated that van. Assuming that Alfa would have even agreed to continue to insure the van knowing all of the above, Alfa was DEFRAUDED out of the appropriate premium. In actuality, once the Gregersons took full-time possession of the Harris cargo van, that van should have been placed on their business insurance policy.)
The Alabama trial court ruled that there effectively was a "rental agreement" between William Harris and the Gregersons, and further ruled that Harris's personal automobile insurance policy did not cover the Gregersons, their businesses, nor their employees. On appeal to the Supreme Court of Alabama, the trial court's decision was affirmed.
Interestingly, the Alabama Supreme Court took the time and made the effort to point out in its decision that William Harris had testified during the trial that his "arrangement" with Dan Gregerson was made either in consideration of their "long-standing friendship", or alternatively, was "a loan". However, the Supreme Court further pointed out that William Harris had testified during his deposition that Dan Gregerson had not simply "volunteered" to make seven of Harris's car payments "out of the goodness of Gregerson's heart", but rather that Dan Gregerson had made those seven car payments because doing so also"benefited" Gregerson.
After that 1993 decision by the Supreme Court of Alabama, Kevin Patterson continued to pursue compensation from the group of defendants. In September 1994, the trial court summarily dismissed all the defendants except for the driver of the van, Jeff West. INTERESTINGLY, we do not know whose fault it was, or why, but only the CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF ANNISTON partnership had been named as a defendant in the lawsuit by Kevin Patterson's attorneys.
In 1995, on Patterson's appeal, the Supreme Court of Alabama upheld the summary dismissal of the van's owner, William Harris, but reversed the dismissal of the CARPET INSTALLATION AND SUPPLIES OF ANNISTON partnership, and remanded the case back to the trial court for further litigation. The Supreme Court of Alabama decision noted the highly interesting way that the Gregerson Family intermingled the two partnerships:
The materials submitted in support of Mr. Patterson's response would support a finding of the following facts: that the partners of the Glencoe partnership are also partners in the Anniston partnership; that the rental agreement for the cargo van was an informal arrangement between Mr. Harris and Daniel Gregerson as opposed to a formal one between Mr. Harris and either or both of the partnerships; that Mr. Gregerson began keeping the cargo van full-time in the summer of 1991 because of an increase in its use when the Anniston partnership was formed and that partnership began operating a store in Anniston; that, as advertising, the "Carpet Installation and Supplies" logo was painted on the side of the cargo van, the word "Anniston" was painted on the front, with the Anniston store's telephone number, and the word "Glencoe" and the Glencoe store's telephone number were painted on the back; that the Anniston partnership and the Glencoe partnership share a bank account at First Alabama Bank; that the account is in the name of the Glencoe partnership, but money is put into the account from the Anniston partnership and the bills of the Anniston partnership are paid from that account; that Jeffery West was paid for his services either by a check from the partnerships' shared bank account or by cash drawn from that account; that the Anniston partnership sold carpet hauled by the cargo van; that Daniel Gregerson, John T. Gregerson, and Beth Gregerson, Daniel's wife, are authorized signers on the partnerships' shared account; and that John T. Gregerson works solely for the Glencoe partnership, and Jason Gregerson works solely for the Anniston partnership, but the other members of the family involved in the partnerships work in both businesses. Cumulatively, this evidence is of such weight and quality that fair-minded persons in the exercise of impartial judgment could reasonably infer that the Anniston partnership was so identified with the Glencoe partnership as to be potentially liable for torts committed in the operation of a vehicle that benefited both partnerships. ... We conclude that this evidence, submitted in opposition to that presented in support of the defendants' motion for summary judgment, is sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact.
Outcome unknown. Some researchers might be interested in knowing that we found "a" Dan Gregerson mentioned multiple times in Raymond Franz's autobiography, CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE, and briefly mentioned in Ray Franz's second book, IN SEARCH OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM.
Anton Zorick died in 2015, and as an "exemplary" Jehovah's Witness received a Kingdom Hall funeral at the Rockport, Texas Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. The following 4 civil lawsuits disclose much about the moral character of this exemplary Jehovah's Witness.
ANTON ZORICK v. CUSTOM BUS CHARTERS was the 1999-2009 Lousiana civil lawsuit in which Anton Zorich sued the owners of the bus on which he was being transported in May 1999 to the Casino Magic Casino in Mississippi for injuries sustained in a single vehicle accident. Outcome unknown.
ANTON A. ZORICK v. MARYLAND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL was the 1963-65 Lousiana Civil lawsuit in which Anton Zorich sued the operators of a motor vehicle which had collided with Zorick's vehicle in New Orleans in January 1963. The trial court dismissed Zorick's lawsuit, stating "emphatically" that Zorick "did not tell the truth" during his testimony. On appeal, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana also ruled against Zorick, stating, "We are of the opinion that no useful purpose would be served by indulging in a protracted discussion of the testimony adduced herein or by endeavoring to reconcile the respective litigants' version of the manner in which the accident occurred. Suffice it to say, that the whole tenor of the record fully supports the trial court's rationale, and the judgment is therefore correct."
ANTON A. ZORICK v. EDWARD D. JONES was the 1962-66 Louisiana civil lawsuit in which Anton Zorich was sued on a real estate contract. Anton Zorick and Edward D. Jones, Jr. were both residents of the State of Louisiana when they executed a contract in 1962. Jones agreed to transfer to Zorick certain property in New Orleans, and in exchange, Zorick agreed to transfer to Jones 50 acres of land in Hancock County, Mississippi. Jones conveyed the New Orleans property to Zorick in accordance with the contract. When Zorick refused to carry out his part of the bargain, Jones filed suit and obtained a judgment in April 1964, declaring Jones to be owner of the Mississippi land, and ordering Zorick to specifically perform his obligations under the contract. On Zorick's appeal, the Louisiana Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's judgment.
ANTON A. ZORICK v. EDWARD D. JONES was the 1966 Mississippi civil lawsuit in which Anton Zorick forced Jones to litigate the legality of the order of the Louisiana courts within Mississippi all the way to the SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI, simply to get Zorick to do what he promised to do back in 1962.
JO A. LEWIS v. EXCEL MECHANICAL LLC and ROGER W. LEWIS (2013-ONGOING) and PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY v. JO. A. LEWIS, ROGER W. LEWIS, and EXCEL MECHANICAL LLC (2013-15) are separate but related federal court cases which involve a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS WIFE suing her current JEHOVAH'S WITNESS HUSBAND for alleged injuries she sustained while partying on the couple's BOAT, with several other JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FAMILY MEMBERS and JEHOVAH'S WITNESS CONGREGATION MEMBERS serving as "witnesses" to back up the plaintiff's allegations.
Roger W. Lewis, age 51, and his wife, Jo A. Lewis, age 47, are a Jehovah's Witness Couple who have lived in Summerville, South Carolina since 2001. They own Excel Mechanical, LLC, which is described as a ONE-MAN Heating & Air Conditioning (HVAC) business owned and operated in Summerville, SC, by Roger Lewis, since 2010.
Previously, from 2007 until 2010, Roger Lewis and Jo Lewis owned and operated Roger W. Lewis Custom Homes, Inc. in Summerville, South Carolina. From 2001 until 2007, Roger Lewis and Jo Lewis owned and operated a previous Heating & Air Conditioning (HVAC) business in Summerville, SC, called NorthPointe Mechanical, Inc. From 1995 until 2001, Roger Lewis and Jo Lewis owned and operated another previous Heating & Air Conditioning (HVAC) business in Perry, Ohio, called Perfect Fit, Inc.
On Sunday, September 4, 2011, Roger Lewis and Jo Lewis hosted a BOATING EXCURSION and PICNIC for multiple other JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES on their personally owned boat. Passengers included the Lewis's two married daughters, Nadia Dunbar and Cheyenne Columbo, and the daughters' friend, Alexa Martinez. Other passengers included Lawrence H. Nuckels and Joni R. Nuckels, who have been identified as being BOTH neighbors of Roger Lewis and Jo Lewis, and fellow members of the same Summerville Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. During that BOATING EXCURSION, one of Jo Lewis's legs was allegedly injured while Roger Lewis was grounding their boat on a sandbar in Charleston Harbor -- assumedly where they were going to picnic.
Around Spring 2012, while filing an unrelated claim with Penn National Insurance Company -- the insurance company which provided business insurance coverage for Excel Mechanical, LLC -- the Lewises discovered that the Penn National business insurance policy provided EXCEL with liability coverage for accidents caused by "non-owned watercraft" during EXCEL'sbusiness activities. Subsequently, Jo Lewis filed a personal injury lawsuit against her husband, Roger Lewis, and against their HVAC business, Excel Mechanical, LLC -- claiming actual damages in excess of $75,000.00, PLUS asking for PUNITIVE DAMAGES. This lawsuit claims that Jo Lewis was injured because of the "negligence" of her husband, Roger Lewis; and, that at the time of the accident that Roger Lewis was acting in the course of his employment as owner/operator of Excel Mechanical, LLC; thus Excel Mechanical, LLC was vicariously liable for Roger Lewis's negligence.
In April 2013, Penn National Insurance Company brought a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration of the rights and obligations of the parties under the business insurance policy issued to Excel Mechanical, LLC, in which Penn National claimed that the BOATING EXCURSION and PICNIC was an entirely private, personal activity of the Lewis Family and their friends, for which there was no coverage under the business insurance policy. The Lewises and their "witnesses" claimed that the BOATING EXCURSION and PICNIC was a BUSINESS TRIP whose purpose was to entertain "potential business clients" -- namely, their neighbors and fellow Jehovah's Witnesses, Larry H. Nuckels and Joni Nuckels.
Unbelievably, Penn National Insurance Company LOST this ridiculous USDC decision!!! Readers familiar with the insular nature of the closeknit Jehovah's Witness community should read the entire USDC decision linked above. Here are some pertinent excerpts from that "completely-ignorant-regarding-the-Jehovah's-Witnesses-community-and-culture" USDC decision:
... Mr. Lewis is the sole member and manager of Excel and, at the time of the accident, was also Excel's only employee. ...
In his testimony, Mr. Lewis specifically discussed his role with Excel and its marketing efforts with the Boat. He explained that although he and his family derived pleasure from the Boat, it was often used to treat clients and potential clients to family outings in an effort to generate goodwill and cultivate personal relationships that would hopefully lead to business for Excel. Mr. Lewis testified that Excel often covered the various costs associated with using the Boat to entertain current and prospective clients -- such as fuel, food, and ice ... .
At the time of the Trip, the Nuckelses lived in the same neighborhood as the Lewises and were members of the same Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall congregation as the Lewises. ...
Prior to and after the Trip, Excel sent out fliers within the neighborhood; in response to receiving one of the fliers, the Nuckelses had contacted Mr. Lewis and told him that they would consider Excel if they had any HVAC needs. ...
Having considered the evidence and testimony presented at trial, and based on the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the Parties and witnesses, the Court concludes that at the time of the Trip and the resulting Accident, Mr. [Roger] Lewis was operating the Boat in the course of his employment and with respect to the conduct of Excel's business and his duties as the manager of Excel. ... The overwhelming weight of the evidence supports the proposition that the Trip was in furtherance of Excel's business -- namely, developing and cultivating relationships with potential customers and referral sources. ...
Because the Court, like the advisory jury, finds that Mr. Lewis's actions were in furtherance of and with respect to the conduct of Excel's business and his duties as Excel's manager, the Court concludes that Mr. Lewis was an "insured" under the terms of the Policy at the time of the Trip and the resulting Accident. Therefore, without reaching or deciding the merits of the Underlying Action, the Court concludes and declares that the Policy's liability coverage applies to Mrs. Lewis's claims against Mr. Lewis and Excel in the Underlying Action. Accordingly, under the terms of the Policy, Penn National has a duty to indemnify Excel, Mr. Lewis, or both, in the event that a judgment is rendered against one or both of them in the Underlying Action. Further, Penn National also has a duty under the terms of the Policy to defend Excel and Mr. Lewis in the Underlying Action. ...
For decades, the WatchTower Society and its "Jehovah's Witness" members have not only won court cases, but "counted on" doing so, due to the general public's -- including ignorant jurors, ignorant judges, and ignorant attorneys -- long KNOWN ignorance of the WatchTower Cult's beliefs, practices, and "community culture". However, some JW-related half-wit decisions are simply too ridiculous to blame on ignorant or ineffectual legal representation. Additionally, one can only wonder what was the "makeup" of this 8-member Charleston, South Carolina area "advisory jury"???
Notably, Federal Judge Patrick Michael Duffy is 71 years-old, and he not surprisingly was a 1995 Nominee of President BILL CLINTON. Bill Clinton hand-picked Patrick Michael Duffy for the South Carolina federal bench apparently due to Duffy's outstanding and distinguished career as a legal scholar. Uncertain as to when (or if) Duffy passed his Bar Exam, but after graduating from Law School in 1968, Duffy spent ONE YEAR with the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Office. Duffy thereafter spent TWO YEARS in the U.S. ARMY, but NOT as an attorney, but rather as an M.P. After two years as an ARMY M.P., Duffy spent ONE YEAR in the Charleston Prosecutor's office. From then until 1995, Duffy was in private practice. WOW!!!! With that extensive legal background and distinguished career, it's a wonder that Bill Clinton did not nominate this liberal to the SCOTUS. Penn National, nor any other insurance company, stands a chance.
Marcus Fruth reportedly had recently lost $150,000.00 day-trading in the stock market. Fruth reportedly had also recently been sued for over $200,000.00 in a breach of contract lawsuit (possibly by JW family/relatives). That and other large personal debts, as well as possible family problems, led Marcus S. Fruth to devise an arson scheme by which he intended to collect large proceeds from his homeowners insurance carrier. In June 2011, Marcus Shawn Fruth was convicted on one count of complicity to commit aggravated arson and four counts of insurance fraud, and was sentenced to four years in prison.
FLORIDA v. MARCUS S. FRUTH and FLORIDA v. MARCUS S. FRUTH. The Fruth family apparently is spending much time at their vacation property in Florida. In January 2014 and March 2014, Marcus Fruth was arrested on multiple charges of DUI, criminal mischief, drug possession, and aggravated battery. Outcome unknown.
FLORIDA v. VICTOR H. CHERY was a 2005 Florida state criminal case which involved Victor H. Chery, then age 49, of Tampa, Florida. In March 2005, Victor Chery was arrested and charged with "patient brokering", which was a third-degree felony that carried a maximum five-year prison sentence. Chery's arrest was part of a two year "insurance fraud" investigation conducted by Florida's Department of Financial Services - Division of Insurance Fraud, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office. Allegedly, accident victims (real and not real) were solicited by attorneys and others, who in turn "sold" the "victims" to doctors, medical clinics, diagnostic firms, etc., who in turn billed insurance companies for unneeded services and services not preformed. Outcome unknown.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY v. ADVANTAGE MEDICAL DIAGNOSTIC INC was a 2001 Flordia civil lawsuit which involved Victor H. Chery, then age 45, of Tampa, Florida. Victor Chery was the owner of Advantage Medical Diagnostic Inc., in Tampa, Florida. Victor Chery was also a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ELDER, and corporate Secretary/Treasurer of the Egypt Lake Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
In March 2001, Allstate Insurance Company filed a lawsuit against Advantage Medical Diagnostic Inc. which alleged that AMD was a "broker" of MRIs and other diagnostic services, which had billed Allstate for services which it had not performed. The complaint further charged, "AMD has also engaged in a pattern of criminal activity by paying and receiving commissions, bonuses, rebates, kickbacks or bribes or in kind or engaged in a split-fee arrangement with referring physicians or with the actual diagnostic facilities." Outcome unknown.
ADVANTAGE MEDICAL DIAGNOSTIC v. STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY was a 2001 Florida civil lawsuit which AMD ludicrously filed against State Farm to collect for MRI services allegedly performed on one of State Farm's policyholders in July 1999. In December 2001, the case was summarily dismissed, with the court stating in part:
Plaintiff which did not perform necessary medical services and is not a physician, hospital, clinic, or other person or institution lawfully rendering treatment to an injured person for a bodily injury covered by PIP insurance is not entitled to payment for MRI services from insurer or insured.
Advantage Medical Diagnostic Inc. was closed as a result of the 2005 criminal investigation. Victor Chery currently owns and operates Quality Diagnostics of Tampa, Inc. at the same address.
NEW YORK STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT v. JOSEPH J. ARMATO ET AL was a 2009 New York state administrative action which involved Joseph J. Armato, who is a greater NYC area businessman whom disgruntled former employees publicly declare is a Jehovah's Witness Minister who also employs some fellow Jehovah's Witnesses (thus named employees and business associates may or may not also be Jehovah's Witnesses).
At various times, Joseph Armato has been licensed to do business as both a "Public Adjuster" and a "construction contractor", which are businesses which on occasion may both be hired by the same individual/entity. Public Adjusters are not permitted in all states, but where lawful, Public Adjusters offer loss adjustment services to property owners who have experienced a property loss which is potentially covered by their property insurance policy. For a fee, Public Adjusters negotiate on behalf of the property owner coverage and settlement amounts with the insurance company and their own adjusters. In this process, the client property owners may also ask their Public Adjuster to "suggest" a construction company willing to perform the agreed repairs for the agreed repair price. That is where things can sometimes become a little sticky because New York allows the same entity to own a contracting firm and a public adjuster firm so long as there is "full disclosure of the relationship to prevent a potential conflict of interest and to make sure the insured is properly informed."
Public Adjusters in New York are licensed and regulated by the New York State Insurance Department. In September 2009, two Westchester County public adjuster companies, EXECUTIVE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU INC. and ADJUSTRITE INC., were EACH FINED $25,000.00 by NYSID for improperly soliciting business between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 8:00 A.M. ADJUSTRITE INC. was also cited for operating without a license. BOTH COMPANIES are located at 333 Fifth Ave., Pelham, New York.
Executive Adjustment Bureau Inc., which is licensed by and through Joseph J. Armato, sub-licensee, agreed to pay its fine after admitting that it improperly solicited business outside of the hours allowed under the law. The solicitations on behalf of Executive were made by John H. Capriles, Brad Barnett, and Brett D. Joseph, who are also individually licensed as public adjusters. Also cited for soliciting outside of the permitted hours was Kevin M. Taylor, who is individually licensed as a public adjuster. Adjustrite Inc., which is currently licensed by and through John H. Capriles, sub-licensee, agreed to pay its fine after admitting after-hours solicitation violations and conducting business without a license.
In February 2013, NBC 4 NEW YORK broadcast and published a report entitled, "INSURANCE ADJUSTERS STEER FIRE VICTIMS TO PREFERRED CONTRACTOR", which alleged that Joseph "Armato has been the subject of seven complaints to the New York Department of Consumer Affairs since 2001 and at least four complaints to Westchester County's Department of Consumer Protection."
The report features a former client of Joseph Armato and Adjustrite Inc. who alleged that after Adjustrite negotiated a settlement with his insurance carrier that Adjustrite recommended one particular contractor -- Joseph Armato. What that client alleged that he did not know was that Joseph "Armato is also one of the founders of Adjustrite. He sold the company in 2007, but still worked in the company's office and was still listed on the company's website." Several former clients alleged that Joseph "Armato's work was shoddy, prolonged and often incomplete."
NYC DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS ET AL v. JOSEPH J. ARMATO and VENETIAN CONTRACTING INC. At a May 2013 hearing, which was not attended by Armato nor Venetian, one of the above former clients presented their claim that unfinished, improperly performed work by Venetian Contracting was going to cost them an additional $20,921.12, to have completed by another contractor. That amount was awarded by default. Additionally, Venetian Contracting was fined $9350.00, and Joseph J. Armato was fined $7000.00. All licenses were also REVOKED immediately. Claimant was given additional time to present evidence of additional expenses, including $5000.00 in code violation fines.
The respondents were granted a Stay of Enforcement in July 2013. Given that both entities are currently doing business in NYC, we assume that the license revocations were reversed. Status of ordered restitution, additional restitution, and code fines unknown.
In the early 1990s, a Jehovah's Witness Elder, who was a prosperous independent Insurance Salesman, informed the Body of Elders at his local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses that he, his wife, and his son would be moving out-of-state sometime within the following year. What that JW Elder did not tell his fellow JW Elders was that he was moving out-of-state for the very same reason that he had moved into their state only 8 years earlier. This JW Insurance Salesman specialized in selling life and health insurance policies to SENIOR CITIZENS. The reason this JW Insurance Salesman was so prosperous was because he engaged in a sales practice that the insurance industry considered to be "unethical", and was prohibited by the insurance companies with whom this JW Insurance Salesman held sales contracts. Because the insurance industry is not federally regulated, but is regulated by each individual state, the contractually prohibited, unethical practice then was only slowly being legally outlawed from state to state during the 1970s-90s. Evidently, this JW Elder had moved out of his home state when his favorite business practice was outlawed in the early 1980s, and now he again had to relocate to another state where his favorite business practice had not yet been legislated as "illegal". Amusingly, later, while making preparations to move, JW Elder's employed Wife informed him that she would not be moving with him. Now that this JW Couple's son was nearing majority, employed JW Elderette did not want to move away from her longtime boyfriend.
THOMAS J. QUINN v. DIVISION OF INSURANCE was a 2009-10 Massachusetts administrative proceeding which involved an adult male Jehovah's Witness named Thomas J. Quinn, a/k/a Thomas J. Quinn, Jr., a/k/a Thomas Quinn, Jr. In December 2009, Thomas J. Quinn, Jr. was denied an Insurance Agent's license by the Massachusett Division of Insurance. On appeal, in March 2010, that "denial" was upheld. Here are some relevant excerpts from that decision:
"Quinn attached to his application a copy of a one page Nolle Prosequi form filed on March 12, 2002 by an assistant district attorney for Middlesex County in the Superior Court for that county stating that the Commonwealth would not prosecute indictments Nos. 2000-1057-001-004. The document identifies Thomas Quinn, Jr. as the defendant in those actions. ... ...
"On or about October 20, 2009, Quinn authorized the Division to obtain his Criminal Offender Record Information ("CORI") from the Criminal History Systems Board. The CORI report that the Division received included a criminal prosecution against Quinn bearing docket number MICR1993-01270. ... ...
"The Division ... contends that Quinn, as the applicant for a license, was obligated to disclose any criminal convictions but that his August 19, 2009 application made no reference to his two felony convictions, and included no attachments explaining or providing details about those convictions.
"The Division asserts that Quinn, by providing with his application only a Nolle Prosequi form disposing of prosecutions in 2000, led the Division to believe that his criminal record was limited to those episodes. It concludes that Quinn, by submitting his application without disclosing or referencing his complete criminal history, provided incorrect, misleading, untrue and incomplete information to the Division."
We know that Thomas J. Quinn, Jr. is a Jehovah's Witness because he submitted a Letter of Reference written by the Presiding Overseer of his own local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
This linked INSURANCE JOURNAL article contains additional information, as does the public comment section at the bottom of the article (start with oldest comments). "Googling" the named owners and named businesses will provide additional info which suggests that this syndicate operates in many more states other than just California. The named operators also may already be using different business names in California, and even different business names in other states. Excerpt:
"After a nearly four-year investigation conducted by the Department of Insurance's (CDI) Fraud Division, investigators served arrest warrants on Tuesday against Luis Perez, 37, of Dove Canyon; Paul Rodas, 40, of Costa Mesa; Elizabeth Waldo (aka: Elizabeth Middleton), 58, and Oscar Hidalgo, 31, both of Yorba Linda. An arrest warrant is still outstanding for Javier Chavolla, 36, also of Yorba Linda. All of the suspects were either owners or principal employees of temporary employment agencies known as Checkmate Staffing Inc.; Checkmate Staffing West Inc.; Checkmate Staffing West Inc.; Checkmate Transport Inc; Tower Temps, Inc.; Staffaide Inc.; RPM Staff Leasing; and Tower Staffing Inc."
Perez, Rodas, Waldo, and Hidalgo were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit workers compensation insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit denial of workers compensation insurance benefits. Lou E. Perez was booked into Orange County jail with bail set at $10 million. Waldo was booked into West Valley Detention Center Jail on $500,000 bail. Hidalgo was booked into Orange County jail on $500,000 bail, and Paul Rodas was booked into Orange County jail on $250,000 bail. Outcome of these criminal cases are unknown. However, in 2003, the State of California went after the corporate entity, Checkmate Staffing, Inc., for failing to pay accurate Worker's Compensation premiums. After agreeing to settle with the State Compensation Insurance Fund for $7.2 million in unpaid workers' compensation premiums, Checkmate filed bankruptcy. Checkmate's attorney also reportedly stated that Checkmate also owed about $30 million in back taxes. The assets of Checkmate and Luis Perez (eight homes) were sold, but apparently did not satisfy the various debts. According to multiple unconfirmed media articles and discussion board postings, Luis Perez and some of his associates laid low for a while, but are currently back in business under the corporate name STAFF CORE INC.
2014 UPDATE: According to the Complaint in this still ongoing 2014 California SEXUAL HARASSMENT lawsuit,ORTEGA ET AL v. LUIS PEREZ, BARONHR LLC, and FORTRESS HOLDINGS, Luis E. Perez aka Luis Perez aka Lou E. Perez aka Lou Perez and his ever-present "lieutenant" Paul Rodas are alive and well and still a major player in the employee staffing industry while operating under a new corporate identity -- BaronHR LLC and FORTRESS HOLDINGS. A quick GOOGLE search shows BaronHR and multiple BaronHR subsidiaries to be in full operation in multiple states across the United States.
The Not-a-JW spouse of a Jehovah's Witness submitted several real-life accounts involving Insurance Agents who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Not-a-JW relates that they once worked in what may best be described to the general public as an Insurance Company's (not agency) "internal affairs" department.
Not-a-JW relates that an internal audit once disclosed that a certain Commercial policyholder had for several years been paying an annual premium of approximately $12,000.00. The problem was that the premium should have been approximately $2000.00 annually. In the initial fact-finding stage of the investigation, in trying to determine whose fault was the excessive premium -- policyholder, agent, or company -- and why had the overcharge gone so long undiscovered, Not-a-JW had telephoned the policyholder's bookkeeper to verify certain information submitted to the company by the policyholder's agent. As it turned out, the business was owned by a JW, and all of the employees were JWs, including the talkative bookkeeper, who initially misunderstood for whom Not-a-JW was employed. Thinking that Not-a-JW was employed by their Insurance Agent, talkative bookkeeper inquired whether Not-a-JW was also a Jehovah's Witness. She made that assumption because, as she later explained, their Insurance Agent was also a JW. Cutting to the chase, ... , Not-a-JW eventually telephoned JW Insurance Agent to inform him of the "problem", and to get his recommendation as to how to handle such. The options were: (1) Inform Policyholder of the overcharge and refund $30,000.00 for the past three years, which would have forced the JW Agent to repay $4800.00 in commissions; (2) Not inform Policyholder of the error, but correct the premium at renewal, which would mean the Agent's commission on this policy would go from $1920.00 to $320.00; or (3) Continue to overcharge the Policyholder. JW Agent informed Not-a-JW that he and the policyholder were "friends", and that he had been the policyholder's agent for many years preceding when the account had been placed with Not-a-JW's company, and that the policyholder had not and would not question the premium, and that he could move the account to another insurance company if Not-a-JW's company had a problem continuing the policy at the current premium level.
Another independent Insurance Agent representing Not-a-JW's company came under the scrutiny of Not-a-JW's department. After two years of monitoring this Agent's transactions, one day, Not-a-JW told a supervisor that this particular Agent was the most persistently dishonest insurance agent that Not-a-JW had ever encountered. Coincidentally, about a month later, Not-a-JW accompanied JW Spouse to the Saturday morning session of that summer's WatchTower district convention. After a series of short opening talks, an hour long symposium was on the schedule. Bored and sleepy, Not-a-JW literally almost fell out of their seat when the symposium director was introduced to the crowd. Guess who was the Jehovah's Witness Elder sufficiently respected within that District to be given direction of the largest part of that morning's session!!!
CHAO v. FIDELITY GROUP In February 2001, the federal government's Department of Labor obtained a consent judgment from a New York federal district court, which settled this civil lawsuit which the DOL had been pursuing against two Jehovah's Witness couples: Eugene and Yvonne Duncan, and Dwayne and Carol Samuels. Both Eugene Duncan and Dwayne Samuels were prominent Jehovah's Witness "Elders" in the NYC area, and both had regularly given talks at circuit assemblies and district conventions over the years. Samuels purportedly also served as a substitute "Circuit Overseer" (a/k/a District Sales Manager) in NYC for the WatchTower Society.
Eugene Duncan and Dwayne Samuels were the President and Vice-President, respectively, of Fidelity Group Inc., which essentially marketed health and dental insurance group plans to small employers in New York and 31 other states. Duncan and Samuels created the scheme in 1995. Each owned 50% of Fidelity's stock. In 1998, BLACK ENTERPRISE business magazine honored Fidelity Group Inc by naming FGI to its' "100s Universe"; the magazine's top 100 African-American owned and operated businesses in the United States.
Fidelity Group, Inc. was established to administer the health plan. The "International Workers' Guild" and the "National Association of Business Owners and Professionals" were formed to make it appear that Fidelity Group's health plan was a federally regulated ERISA health plan, and thus not subject to regulation by state insurance laws. However, when later scrutinized by federal and state authorities, it was deemed to actually be a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA), which are subject to state regulation. In its lawsuit, the Department of Labor referred to IWG as a "sham union", which operated the health plan for employers through "bogus" collective bargaining agreements with the NABOP, which the DOL referred to as a "sham employer association". Yvonne Duncan and Carol Samuels were Corporate Officers of NABOP. Before marketing of the plan was stopped in January 1999, it had over 10,000 participants in 32 states. Unpaid insurance claims were estimated at between$8,000,000.00 and $28,000,000.00. The DOL's lawsuit filed on Dec. 15, 1998, alleged that nine defendants holding various positions at either FGI, IWG, or NABOP violated ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) when they:
-- paid excessive administrative fees from health plan assets to Fidelity for its service as the third-party administrator;
-- diverted assets of the health plan to IWG and NABOP in the form of sham union and association fees;
-- failed to monitor and administer the fund's claims processing system and adjudication system, thereby resulting in a $25 million backlog of unprocessed health claims;
-- failed to assure the financial soundness of the plan through the use of adequate underwriting and sound actuarial analysis;
-- failed to establish adequate contribution rates and maintain cash reserves to assure the payment of claims;
-- allowed the plan to become insolvent and used plan money for prohibited purposes; and
-- permitted NABOP and IWG to be created or operated primarily to divert plan assets from the payment of health benefits.
Under the 2001 consent judgment, Eugene Duncan and Dwayne Samuels were each required to restore $250,000.00 under a payment schedule, and restore annually to the plan 50% of their net income over a $50,000.00 threshold for 15 years, up to an $8,000,000.00 cap. The JW Duo also were barred from serving as fiduciaries, receiving compensation, marketing services, and having business dealings with any plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Eugene Duncan later attempted to discharge this obligation by filing bankruptcy, but the DOL successfully intervened in Duncan's 2005 bankruptcy case.
Under the 2001 consent judgment, Yvonne Duncan and Carol Samuels were each required to restore annually to the plan 50% of their net income over a $50,000 threshold for 10 years, up to a $3,800,000.00 cap. They also are permanently barred from acting as fiduciaries or service providers to any ERISA plan. An earlier settlement with the four plan trustees, Paul Askew(Dwayne Samuels brother-in-law), Charles Bradley (Eugene Duncan's half-brother), Terence Rhue and Noel Shaw, as well as with FGI management-level employees, David Spooner and Lee Jarmolowsky, barred the four trustees for 10 years, and Spooner for life, from activities governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. They may not act as fiduciaries, provide services, receive compensation, market a plan, recruit participants, or sell property to any ERISA plan. Jarmolowsky, who was not involved in the diversion of plan assets, consented to an injunction which permanently prohibited him from acting as a fiduciary to any ERISA plan.
Reportedly, this scheme involved other Jehovah's Witnesses as employees of FGI, IWG, or NABOP. Employees of the sales and marketing entities in the states where the plan was sold, and also business owners and employees covered by the plan, may have also involved some JWs. Readers should be aware of the existing hole in American law that impacted this scenario. In the United States, the federal government is the primary regulator of the banking and securities industries. However, the insurance industry is primary regulated by the individual states. In this particular case, the DOL took its' best shot under ERISA. However, since this scheme was actually a MEWA, it was subject to state insurance laws, and some individual states, such as South Carolina and North Carolina (see also Long Et Al v. Hammond, Holroyd Et Al v. Requa), have also gone after the above parties, as well as the in-state marketers. A "Marty Geitler" and a "John Branham" (spellings not necessarily correct) were identified in one SC court case as the exclusive "General Agents" who marketed the plan around the U.S.
GUNNELLS ET AL v. FIDELITY GROUP ET AL. In South Carolina, a class action lawsuit was also filed against the above entities, as well as the insurance agents in SC who marketed this plan. In 2004, ten SC insurance agents agreed to a settlement totaling $1,352,062.00 in order to be released from the lawsuit. Readers interested in knowing whether any of those agents, or whether the multitude of defendants remaining in the ongoing lawsuit (other than those already identified) have any ties to the Jehovah's Witnesses can view the linked webpage.
UNITED STATES v. SAMUELS and UNITED STATES v. DUNCAN were the 2001 federal criminal trials related to the above. The government outdid itself in these. Limited details, but apparently Samuels and Duncan plea bargained to "littering", since they each received only six months probation. If Samuels would have been jailed in 2001, that would have saved many people from being defrauded in the Vanguarde scheme he already had going.
UNITED STATES v. SAMUELS is/was a 2005 New York criminal court case filed against the former WatchTower "Circuit Overseer" named Dwayne Samuels (see CHAO v. FIDELITY GROUP), who had been operating a health insurance scheme similar to the Fidelity Group scheme since 1999. The list of new corporations formed by Samuels included: Vanguarde Group, Vanguard Group, Financial Independence & Prosperity Network, Inc., and American Financial Management Association. Outcome unknown. Samuels was indicted for embezzlement of payments intended to provide health care coverage and for devising a scheme to defraud members of the Wedding & Event Videographers Association (WEVA) and the American Financial Management Association Group (AFMA). AFMA was a corporation set up by Samuels to collect premiums from individuals that were not WEVA members. Samuels allegedly carried out the fraud by falsely representing to WEVA members that Vanguard carried stop-loss insurance coverage to pay claims in excess of the assets that Vanguard had and by embezzling for his personal use payments intended to provide health coverage. Samuels, who was in charge of Vanguard's day-to-day operations including its financial affairs, allegedly failed to pay numerous bills submitted to Vanguard by health care providers for services provided to WEVA and AFMA members. Vanguard marketed the health care benefit program in numerous states including New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
IN THE MATTER OF VANGUARD ASSET GROUP. In 2002, the Florida Department of Insurance filed a Cease & Desist lawsuit against Dwayne Samuels, Vanguarde Group, Vanguard Group, Financial Independence & Prosperity Network, Inc., American Financial Management Association, Anthony Williams, William McCreary, V. DiCarlo, Robert Lenore, and Phil Jackson. This 2002 Florida lawsuit compared Vanguard Group's scheme with that of the Fidelity Group scheme that had been shut down in 1999.
IN THE MATTER OF VANGUARDE ASSET GROUP. In 2003, the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance shut down Dwayne Samuels' illegal insurance operations in that state. Samuels was barred from doing business in Pennsylvania for 20 years, and Vanguarde was fined $338,000.00. Samuels probably busted a gut laughing when he got that letter.
IN THE MATTER OF VANGUARDE ASSET GROUP. In 2003, the Colorado Department of Insurance also filed a Cease and Desist Order against Dwayne Samuels' illegal insurance operations in that state.
Click HERE to access several additional cases in which John E. Branham or Linda C. Branham were parties.
UNITED STATES v. GEORGE ALEXANDER was the 1983-86 Pennsylvania federal criminal prosecution of African-Trinidadian George Alexander, age 40, of Allentown, Pennsylvania. A citizen of Trinidad, George Alexander apparently had been a U.S. resident long enough and with enough success to convince a lender to finance the downtown Allentown three-story building which housed Alexander's shoe store.
By December 1983, the business was failing, and as sometimes happens, a "friction fire" erupted when Alexander's fire insurance policy began to rub against Alexander's mortgage. Alexander telephoned a relative enrolled at TEXAS A&M, and offered him $10,000.00 of the insurance proceeds, plus expenses, if he would fly to Allentown and set the "over-insured" building on fire. (Who was more stupid, Alexander's lender or his insurance agent?) Alexander's relative turned down the offer, but his Trinidadian dormmate and another student did fly to Allentown and set Alexander's building on fire. The amateurs used gasoline as the accelerant, which allowed the arson to be easily discovered.
Those "three stooges" eventually pled guilty and received a favorable plea agreement and sentence. George Alexander was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for orchestrating the December 1983 arson. Alexander also was ordered to make restitution of around $35,000.00. Alexander also received five years probation after release from prison. Robert Dunton, a respected local Jehovah's Witnesses ELDER, appeared at Alexander's sentencing, and spoke on Alexander's behalf.
AGATHA D. BELL v. MONTGOMERY WARD was a 1992 Louisiana federal civil court case which included the sworn testimony of multiple members of a Shreveport area family of Jehovah's Witnesses. In October 1987, Roy Bell cut off portions of two toes when he slipped while mowing a wet, inclined portion of a customer's yard. The rear toe guard was missing from the lawn mower responsible for his injury, which Bell claimed that he had purchased from Montgomery Ward. Thereafter, the Bell Family filed this lawsuit against Montgomery Ward making claim under strict liability, negligence, and ... .
Bell testified that he bought two lawn mowers from Wards in June 1987. Although Bell had an active lawn service business, Bell testified that both lawn mowers remained unassembled in their boxes for approximately 3-4 months until his other mowers stopped working. After assembling the mowers, one rear guard fell off the first time the mower was used, while being operated by Jarrell Bell, who was then 12 years-old. Jarrell Bell testified that he had been using the first mower for approximately an hour and forty-five minutes when he pulled the mower back over some grass and the toe guard fell off. The rear guard fell off of the second mower a few days later.
Both Laura Bell and Jarrell Bell confirmed Roy Bell's testimony that the two MW mowers had not been used for 3-4 months after purchase. Laura Bell also testified as to how her husband's injuries had reduced his ability to financially support their family; reduced his recreational activities; and reduced his religious activities given that Roy Bell "had been very involved in their church work". MTD actually manufactured the two MW mowers, and MTD's Chief Engineer examined the mowers in question and testified at the trial that both mowers had been used much more than the Bell Family testified. He also testified that both guards had been intentionally ripped from the mowers. The USDC ruled in favor of Montgomery Ward, stating in part:
Although the plaintiff and his son testified that these mowers remained boxed from June, 1987, to August or October, 1987, and were only used once, an examination of the mower itself indicates a much more extensive use of the mower. It is inconceivable to this court that the hard plastic wheels of the machine could show this amount of tread wear after one use. Additionally, the marks on the machine indicate extensive use, not one time use as testified by the plaintiffs; the deck was worn on the front, paint was chipped off of the front and rear, the rear of the blade edge was fairly well worn, the wheel mounting was completely worn, the left wheel was bent and the "up stop" showed wear from use. ... ... ...
Based upon the testimony of [Chief Engineer ], inspection of the mower in question as well as the companion purchased at the same time, and inspection of the rear guards which supposedly fell off the machines on their first use,this court totally rejects the contentions of the plaintiffs that the guard fell off when first used. The court in fact finds that the guards were intentionally removed by forcefully pulling them off as testified to by [Chief Engineer ].
In August 2012, Centrelink received a number of complaints from Mount Morgan Medical Centre patients regarding health care plans. In some cases patients were unaware claims had been made in their name and in other cases they said they had never seen a practitioner. An additional complaint was received from a doctor working at the Mount Morgan Medical Centre who noticed services had been billed under their provider number that they knew hadn't been provided to patients.
Investigations into the fraud commenced in October 2012. Doctors and receptionists gave evidence to police that Gourley looked after all the medical practitioners' billing and would take patients in for private consultations to complete health care assessments for them. Gourley used the provider numbers of three doctors to process her fraudulent claims. One of the doctors grew suspicious when their provider number had been used to process 19 health care plans despite never having worked at the Mount Morgan Medical Centre. The doctor in question worked at the practice's predecessor, the Ross Medical Centre, for two weeks. These 19 claims resulted in fraudulent rebates totalling $18,971.00. The second doctor, who made the initial complaint, had 18 claims made using their provider number, leading to $20,147.00 being paid out from Medicare. The third doctor also had 18 claims made against their name, and unlike the other doctors, signed off on the health care plans on a number of occasions. They had previously worked for the Australian Defence Force and were unaware of how the Medicare system worked, thinking the plans looked reasonable. Although there were 55 fraudulent claims made, several services were 'batched' in each claim, meaning the actual number was higher.
Gourley was given a sentence of two years, but will spend only six months in jail, followed by four years probation. Centrelink also may take civil action against Gourley for repayment of the defrauded medicare payments.
Grech testified that the two old farts, who had been married since 1962, were both unhappy with each other and did not get along. The elderly couple had long ceased sharing a bed years ago -- with the exception of when they occasionally visited their children and grandchildren. However, they lived together in the same home and shared chores and interacted exactly the same as did any other married couple in their 70s. Grech testified that the longtime JW married couple had no plans to divorce or even legally separate because of "their religious beliefs" and the anticipated negative response to a divorce or separation from the "Elders" at their JW Congregation. However, if the good taxpayers of Australia would kindly give both Jehovah's Witnesses the "single person, full rate" pension, and thus alleviate Kenneth Grech of his religious obligation to support his longtime, elderly wife, then the JW Couple might then be able to live apart without being disfellowshipped or otherwise sanctioned by their Jehovah's Witness congregation.
Again, this case was not just LUDICROUS, nor even simply IGNORANT. Kenneth Grech's original application had been denied. Grech then appealed, and the initial decision was affirmed by a Review Officer. Grech then appealed that decision to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, which also affirmed the initial decision. Then, Grech appealed that decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia, and again lost there. If Grech was able to appeal beyond there, he probably did. This case is an excellent example of an IDIOT JEHOVAH'S WITNESS IN THE WRONG who refuses to admit they are wrong once they sink their "teeth" into a legal matter.
One Tipster reports that a JW Family with children moved into their rural, isolated congregation during the 1990s from a large urban congregation over 1000 miles away. The New JW Family painted themselves as "needgreaters" who were looking to"serve where the need was great". The new JW Family actually followed through with their plans for both the two parents and their teenaged children to regular and auxiliary "pioneer".
Local JWs were concerned by the NG Family's plan to support themselves with a carpet-cleaning business -- given the fact that that rural congregation had already lost several previous needgreater families who had attempted to support themselves with carpet-cleaning businesses which were failures due to the sparsely populated area where only a small number of homes had carpeting. As the local JWs had expected, during NG Family's first year in the community, the children of the NG Family occasionally let it slip that their JW Father was barely making enough money from his carpet-cleaning business to pay for the advertising in the local newspaper. Occasionally, local JWs would inquire of the NG Parents whether they needed help, but the NG Parents would always say that "Jehovah was providing", although there were rumors that the NG Family was accepting "help" from certain local JWs whom the NG Family required to be very discreet with their financial assistance. NG Family made it through their first year, then a second year, and then a third year. Although living spartanly, the NG Family seemed to be prospering.
Then, while off work the day before Thanksgiving, Tipster worked in field service with the NG Family. Concerned with NG Family's finances, Tipster had offered the use of his own van and gasoline, but NG Father related that he preferred to drive his own van. At the end of field service, Tipster offered to buy lunch for NG Family at a local restaurant, but instead, NG Father invited Tipster back to their home for lunch, which Tipster hesitantly accepted due to believing that NG Family was barely making ends meet. Once at the home of NG Family, Tipster was shocked to see a better television and stereo system than the ones that he owned. The NG home was well decorated, and during a trip to the bathroom, Tipster observed a fully stocked large pantry that would make a restaurant envious. The NG home's furnishings simply did not match the NG's hooptie automobiles nor the inexpensive clothing the NG Family wore out in public.
About a year later, Tipster learned from one of his non-JW relatives that a local manufacturing plant was attempting to hire a part-time janitor with carpet-cleaning experience to work from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM five nights per week at a rate which matched the full-time weekly wage at other smaller local employers. Tipster immediately thought of NG Father, whose work experience was perfect for the job -- with the job's 20 nighttime hours per week being perfect for the auxiliary pioneering father. Tipster immediately telephoned NG Father with what Tipster believed to be a "blessing from Jehovah". Well, NG Father did not consider the prospective employment to be a blessing. Tipster relates that NG Father gave him a chewing out that came as close to being a cursing out that Tipster ever received from a non-relative JW Elder. NG father let Tipster know that he was doing just fine supporting his family with his carpet-cleaning business, and that working from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM five nights per week would destroy his spiritual life with his wife and children.
Tipster relates that he was shocked at NG Father's reasoning, and decided that he needed to do some further inquiring into NG Family's financial situation. It took Tipster several months, but Tipster finally discovered that NG Family was receiving WELFARE and FOOD STAMPS, and was being regularly financially "helped" by an old widow in the congregation, who was herself living at poverty level. Tipster also eventually learned that this was nothing new for NG Family -- that this was how NG Family "existed" when they lived in the previous large city. Tipster was also eventually told by the aforementioned "poor widow" that one of the children had let it slip one day that BOTH NG Father and NG Mother, whom had never mentioned nor ever shown the slightest bit of physical or mental impairment, were receiving MONTHLY DISABILITY CHECKS of unknown variety.