7 boat insurance fraud suspects indicted

By Christopher Yazbec, News editor, News4Jax.com, cyazbec@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 12 2013 03:20:39 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Seven people have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud BoatUS.

Those charged are John Kurant Jr., 46, of St. Augustine; Christopher Labaire, 35, of Jupiter; Greg Wilson, 47, of Jupiter; Jerold Wolfe, 36, of Jupiter; John Grant, 47, of Jupiter; Scott Coleman, 45, of Jupiter; and Adam Horvit, 34, of Parkland.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The indictments also notify the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit the proceeds of their fraudulent scheme. In total, the indictments of Kurant and Labaire reflect that BoatUS paid out $853,758.33 in insurance proceeds based upon the sham and fraudulent marine insurance claims.

According to court documents, Kurant was a claims adjuster for BoatUS in its Orange Park office. It is alleged that he reached an unlawful agreement with Labaire to defraud BoatUS, in connection with BoatUS's marine insurance program, by creating sham insurance policies and submitting fraudulent marine insurance claims.

The indictments allege that Kurant would abuse his position as a claims adjuster by assisting in the procurement of sham boat insurance policies with BoatUS. In addition, Labaire, a longtime friend of Kurant, submitted fraudulent claims himself and also recruited other individuals in the South Florida area to pose as pleasure boat owners and fraudulently secure sham marine insurance policies with BoatUS, according to the indictment.

After making a few premium payments on the sham insurance policy, the co-conspirators would then submit false claims of total boat losses due to theft, accident damage, or reporting that the boat sank, according to the indictment.

Kurant is alleged to have caused the fraudulent claims to be assigned to him for claims adjudication, which resulted in electronic transfers of claims information from Orange Park to Alexandria, Va. Based upon the fraudulent claims, BoatUS issued checks to the sham boat owners, which were sent by a commercial carrier, according to the indictment. After receiving the insurance proceeds check(s), they were deposited into bank accounts and the funds were shared with conspirators, according to the indictment.

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