Three insurance agents based in New York and Florida were charged with using straw buyers to obtain more than $100 million in life insurance policies they resold to third-party investors.
Michael Binday, 48, of New York; James Kevin Kergil, 57, of Peekskill, New York; and Mark Resnick, 56, of Orlando, Florida, were charged with conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement today. They each face as long as 80 years in prison if convicted, he said.
“These three insurance agents concocted an elaborate scheme, using straw buyers and third-party agents, to deceive life insurance providers into issuing policies to unintended beneficiaries,” Bharara said. “When their scheme was unraveling, they allegedly sought to throw investigators off the trail by destroying documents and telling other individuals to lie.”
The three recruited elderly clients of “modest means” to apply for life insurance policies without disclosing to the insurance companies that they intended to sell the policies to investors, according to prosecutors. They earned millions of dollars in commission and purchased some of the policies from the straw buyers for themselves, prosecutors said.
“We intend to vigorously contest that a crime even occurred here,” JaneAnne Murray, Resnick’s lawyer, said in a phone interview. “Much less that Mr. Resnick is guilty of any crime.”
Richard Strassberg, Binday’s lawyer, said in a phone interview that he entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client. Binday voluntarily surrendered to authorities and was released on bail, the lawyer said.
His client expects to be “fully vindicated,” Strassberg said.
Roger Stavis, Kergil’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call to his office for comment on the allegations after regular business hours.