MUSKEGON, Mich. — A Muskegon insurance agent charged with fraud an embezzling his clients’ money has pleaded guilty, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox announced Wednesday.
Charles Booker, Jr., 63, was arraigned back in February on the following charges:
- Three counts of embezzlement by an agent or trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a felony punishable by five years’ imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine, or three times the amount embezzled, whichever is greater;
- One count of insurance fraud, a four-year felony and/or a $50,000 fine; and
- Using a computer to commit a crime, which is a felony punishable by seven years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine in this instance.
The attorney general’s office alleged that between October 2014 and June 2016, Booker collected insurance premiums from 42 clients but failed to remit the premiums to Farmers Insurance.
Instead, Booker converted the money to his own use.
He also allegedly applied money he collected in premiums from three clients to the policies of several other clients whose premiums he did not remit to the insurer.
Booker pleaded guilty to three counts of misdemeanor embezzlement by an agent of $200 or more but less than $1,000 on Wednesday morning before Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes in Muskegon County’s 60th District Court.
He also paid more than $13,700 in restitution before entering the guilty plea.
Booker further signed a written acknowledgment that he engaged in insurance fraud and that he was not eligible to seek re-licensure as an insurance agent.
Farmers Insurance honored the affected insurance policies, so the company was considered the victim of Booker’s actions.
“My office continues to work alongside DIFS to ensure Michiganders who entrust their finances to insurance agents can be confident their money is being used as intended,” Nessel said. “I’m proud of the work done to ensure accountability in this case. It should serve as a reminder that we stand ready to pursue justice against anyone who violates our laws.”