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Former Plum Insurance Agency President Faces Insurance Fraud Charges

Carol A. Hughes, 56, of Monroeville is accused of orchestrating a four-year theft scheme.

Agents from the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section have filed criminal charges against the former president of a defunct Plum Borough insurance agency.

Carol A. Hughes, 56, of Monroeville is accused of stealing more than$150,000 in insurance premiums paid by various restaurants and bars.

Attorney General Linda Kelly said Hughes allegedly used her position as president of the in Plum to orchestrate a theft scheme from 2007 through 2011, victimizing numerous businesses, insurance companies and premium financing companies.

In a press release, Kelly said the Morry Hoffman Agency specialized in obtaining liquor liability and commercial liability insurance for restaurants and taverns until its license was terminated by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance in February 2011.

According to the criminal complaint, Hughes misappropriated premium funds that had been paid to the agency by various clients, depositing the money in one large account and failing to forward those payments to the appropriate insurance companies.

Additionally, Hughes and the Morry Hoffman Agency are accused of submitting applications to premium financing companies in the names of various businesses, without their knowledge or consent, in order to obtain funds that would purportedly be used to purchase insurance policies on behalf of those businesses.

Kelly noted that in some of these instances the businesses that were named on the financing applications had already paid the full insurance premiums that were due.

According to the criminal charges, the insurance premium money paid by various clients, along with funds from the premium financing companies were deposited into a single business account which was allegedly used to pay personal expenses for Hughes, along with food, travel and business expenses.

Hughes is charged with participating in a corrupt organization, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. She also is charged with insurance fraud, two counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, three counts of theft by deception and three counts of forgery—all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

Hughes also is charged with two counts of misapplication of entrusted property, second-degree misdemeanors which are each punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 fines.

Hughes was preliminarily arraigned before Plum Magisterial District Judge Linda Zucco Wednesday. She was released on unsecured bail pending a preliminary hearing on Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. before Zucco.

The case is being prosecuted in Allegheny County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Dennis A. Kistler of the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section.

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Heidi Dezayas October 25, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Update: Hughes' preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for Oct. 30.

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