The California Department of Insurance announced on Tuesday the arrest of a Pacoima commercial insurance agent for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 in customer premiums.
Isidro Santillan, 53, was charged with 13 counts of grand theft and three counts of commercial burglary. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in state prison.
Investigators allege Santillan, also known as Art Sanchez, sold insurance policies and bonds to licensed construction contractors, but then didn’t forward the premiums to the insurance carriers.
Santillan allegedly issued check authorization drafts – a type of check that doesn’t require the payer’s signature – and then instead of sending them to the insurer, he cashed them for his personal use. In some cases, the amount of the check exceeded the agreed upon price for the insurance policy.
The Department of Insurance launched an investigation in 2012 after receiving complaints about Santillan’s handling of commercial auto, general liability and worker’s compensation insurance and bonds.
“When Santillan stole his client’s insurance premium money, he exposed business owners to great financial risk by leaving them without insurance coverage,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement. “My enforcement team will aggressively investigate and bring to justice any insurance agent or broker that violates their fiduciary responsibility in the name of greed.”
The Department of Insurance is looking for additional victims in this case. Anyone who has purchased insurance from Sid Santillan, Art Sanchez, Insurance Service Center or Isidro Santillan Insurance Services should contact the department’s Valencia office.
Santillan was taken into custody last month.