CARLSBAD, Calif. (CNS) - A former insurance agent who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $220,000 from his clients, including a late prominent art dealer and philanthropist who lived in Carlsbad, was ordered this week to repay the victims.
According to the California Department of Insurance, John Phillip Ryan, 64, of Yucca Valley, took funds from 12 of his clients, including Gregg Juarez, an art dealer who lived in Carlsbad until his death in 2018 at the age of 94. Ryan's insurance licenses and licensing rights have since been revoked and he has been banned from taking part in the insurance business.
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In addition to victim restitution, Ryan was sentenced Monday to two years of probation and credit for 323 days already served in jail following his pleas to two felony counts of financial elder abuse and grand theft of insurance premiums.
The investigation into Ryan began in 2017 after one of his employees filed a complaint indicating Ryan was retaining his client's premiums rather than remitting them to insurance companies.
Further investigation revealed Ryan took $87,000 from Juarez over the course of at least two years, the Department of Insurance said. Investigators discovered there were 11 other victims, including one client in his 80s.
"A measure of justice has been delivered for 12 of Defendant Ryan's clients in San Diego and Riverside Counties, including vulnerable elders, who fell prey to Ryan's schemes," San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
"As an agent, Ryan took criminal advantage of their confidences for personal financial gain. Thanks to a thorough investigation by the California Department of Insurance working with an expert prosecution team from my office, Ryan stands convicted and sentenced and can no longer participate in insurance transactions which will prevent him from victimizing seniors in this way in the future," Stephan added.
The Department of Insurance said Ryan sold insurance under the names "Calinsured," "Greater Palm Springs Insurance" and "PS Independent Insurance."
Current and former clients of Ryan's were encouraged "to review their policies and contact the listed insurance company to verify its validity and confirm receipt of any funds they may have given to Ryan," according to a Department of Insurance statement.
"This insurance agent gained his clients' trust in order to access their money and then stole from them with no regard for their livelihoods," California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said.