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Press Release

Ethan Allen Insurance Scam Sends Another To Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

‪HOUSTON – Robert Steve Mills, 58, of Bonita Springs, Fla., has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of conspiracy to launder money, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Mills pleaded guilty July 26, 2012, to the charge in relation to the Ethan Allen Insurance Scam.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Mills a sentence of 120 months in federal prison. He was further ordered to pay a $2,455,531 in restitution and will also be required to serve three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.

Mills had admitted to conspiring to launder the proceeds of a fraud scheme that sold fake liability insurance policies through “benefit associations” operated from Texas called International Property Owners Association Ltd. and Global Property Owners Association Inc. and through a company domiciled in Pago Pago, American Samoa, called American Transport Insurance Corporation. The fake insurance was purchased by apartment complexes, condominium associations, bars, restaurants, trucks, taxi cabs, charter aircraft services and other businesses in the United States and Caribbean. One company that purchased the insurance was Shoreline Cruises Inc. which operated a 40-foot tour boat called the Ethan Allen on Lake George, N.Y. The tour boat operator discovered its insurance policy was fictitious after the Ethan Allen sank on Oct. 2, 2005, in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of 20 elderly tourists. 

Mills has been in custody since Jan. 10, 2011, when a U.S. magistrate judge found he presented a serious risk of flight, having fled the United States in 2009 because of the government’s investigation.

Three others have also been convicted in this scheme. Christopher Purser pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, while Edmund Benton and Malchus Irvin Boncamper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. Purser previously received a sentence of 188 months, while Boncamper and Benton are serving 97 and 120 months in prison, respectively.

‪The convictions were the result of an intensive investigation conducted by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas, New York and California Departments of Insurance. During this four-year investigation, the U.S. government also received extensive and valuable assistance from the governments of St. Kitts and Nevis and also St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Investigators also received valuable assistance from the governments of The Bahamas, Nicaragua, The Philippines and Australia.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John R. Lewis and Belinda Beek are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015