Boat Insurance Fraud Conspirators
December 12, 2013
Jacksonville, Florida – Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return by a grand jury of five indictments charging seven individuals with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud Boat U.S. Those charged include: John J. Kurant, Jr. (46, St. Augustine); Christopher E. Labaire (35, Jupiter); Greg Wilson (47, Jupiter); Jerold Wolfe (36, Jupiter); John Grant (47, Jupiter); Scott Coleman (45, Jupiter); and Adam Horvit (34, 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 Boat U.S. 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 Boat U.S., in its Orange Park, Florida office. It is alleged that he reached an unlawful agreement with Labaire to defraud Boat U.S., in connection with Boat U.S.’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 Boat U.S. In addition, Labaire, a long-time 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 Boat U.S. 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. 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, Florida to Alexandria, Virginia. Based upon the fraudulent claims, Boat U.S. issued checks to the sham boat owners, which were sent by a commercial carrier. After receiving the insurance proceeds check(s), they were deposited into bank accounts and the funds were shared with conspirators.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark B. Devereaux.