FRESNO- On May 11, 2021, the California Department of Insurance announced that former insurance agent Wendy Judd, 47, of Madera, pleaded guilty to felony grand theft after embezzling more than $20,000 of insurance premium payments from consumers.
The California Department of Insurance launched an investigation after receiving a referral from the insurance company that employed Judd. The investigation showed that between March 2014 and January 2015 she collected $20,982 in cash premium payments from consumers that were not remitted to the insurance company.
Judd credited the consumers’ policies with the payments to keep them in force, but failed to deposit the funds into a premium trust account for the insurance company to pull the payments from. Instead, she kept the cash for her personal benefit. Judd attempted to conceal her actions by depositing personal checks into the premium trust account weeks later, but most of those checks were returned due to insufficient funds.
In October 2015, after resigning from the insurance company, Judd embezzled more money by withdrawing an additional $3,000 of premium payments from the trust account. When interviewed by Department investigators, Judd disputed the amount of money she had taken, but admitted that she had “borrowed” some premium payments with the intent of eventually paying it back.
“California Department of Insurance investigators are diligent in their jobs of pursuing those who commit financial crimes involving insurance,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It’s just a matter of time, with so very many cases, that they catch up to those stealing and committing fraud.”
Judd’s insurance license expired in September 2020. The Department is in the process of initiating an administrative action to prevent her from reinstating the license. The case was prosecuted by the Madera County District Attorney's Office.