Attorney General Shapiro Announces Felony Fraud Charges Against Washington County Insurance Broker
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a Washington County insurance broker was charged with insurance fraud for failing to submit more than $93,000 in payments for commercial insurance policies with various companies between 2014 and 2016.
Mark Bleier, 44, of High Oak Court, Pittsburgh, former owner of Steel City Insurance, is charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, insurance fraud and other charges for failing to forward payments made by his commercial insurance customers to the insurers who carried their policies. Bleier stole a total of $93,444 from various clients over a two-year period.
“This man stole money from his clients and cheated them out of the insurance policies they believed in good faith they had purchased,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Here’s why insurance fraud is a problem: When people commit this crime, it causes premiums to rise for the folks who follow the rules. It’s wrong, and we’ll prosecute it wherever we find it.”
Following a referral from the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, Office of Attorney General agents in the Insurance Fraud Section began investigating Bleier. Investigators discovered Bleier failed to remit insurance payments for at least nine commercial companies.
In one instance, a commercial customer of Bleier made a $38,984 down payment to him for various insurance coverages for his company. The company questioned the policy’s status a few weeks later, after they did not receive any information on the coverage. Bleier provided the company with a “Certificate of Liability Insurance,” but the company never received any specific policy information from the insurer.
Two months after paying for the policies, one of the company’s employees was involved in a head-on collision with another driver while operating a company vehicle. The other driver suffered serious injuries. The company’s owner called Bleier, who didn’t respond until several days later, saying he would handle it.
During this time, the company owner discovered his company did not have the insurance coverage he believed he purchased through Bleier. Fortunately, Bleier never submitted a change of broker request – so the company was still covered under a previously purchased policy obtained through another broker. The claim was settled with the injured driver for $1,000,000.
Bail was set at $100,000 unsecured. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 3. The case will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jerome Orie of the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.