Charlottesville Insurance Agent Sentenced
Graham Messer Previously Admitted to Insurance Fraud
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA -- A local insurance agent, who pled in March to insurance fraud, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Graham Hutson Messer, 32, of Bremo Bluff, Va., was originally charged in September 2012 with 13 counts of mail fraud. In March, Messer waived his right to be indicted and pled guilty to a one count Information charging him with insurance fraud. This afternoon in District Court he was sentenced to seven months of federal incarceration. In addition, Messer will serve three years of supervised release, the first seven months of which must be served on home confinement. He was also ordered to pay $60,019 in restitution to the victims of his fraudulent activity.
“Mr. Messer diverted money from his clients that they had paid in order to obtain insurance,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “His criminal conduct left his victims uninsured and placed the financial futures of many local families in jeopardy. A coordinated law enforcement effort uncovered Mr. Messer’s scheme and led to his conviction. This case demonstrates our continuing commitment to investigating and prosecuting all forms of financial fraud.”
Messer operated as an independent agent offering insurance and insurance products for sale to clients throughout Virginia. Messer purported to sell insurance offered by a variety of insurance companies. Though some policies were in fact placed with the proper companies, many were not.
Messer admitted that he would instruct his clients to send payments for insurance premiums directly to him. The defendant told his clients that he would then remit the payments to the insurance companies. However, Messer admitted that he embezzled those funds for his own, personal use, never sending them to the insurance company, while also deceiving his clients into believing they had insurance coverage when they did not.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Albemarle County Police Department, the Virginia Bureau of Insurance and the Charlottesville City Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Elliott Casey is prosecuting the case for the United States.