3 Howard men are indicted for insurance fraud N.J. grand jury cites attempt to stash premiums.

September 13, 1991|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Evening Sun Staff Richard Irwin contributed to this story.

Martin Bramson and Leonard Allen Bramson, two Howard County brothers in business together, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy to commit extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in the operation of an insurance company, according to the Maryland-Delaware FBI Office.

Warren H. Berkle Jr., an Ellicott City insurance broker, also is charged in the 29-count indictment issued Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., the FBI said.

Martin Bramson and Berkle were arrested yesterday, according to the FBI, and were to appear today at a bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

The FBI said Leonard Bramson was arrested yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is to appear at a bail hearing in federal court there.

Martin Bramson, 45, of the 7600 block of Sweet Hour Way in Columbia, faces a possible sentence of 185 years in federal prison and more than $9 million in fines if convicted. Leonard Bramson, 44, of the 10100 block of Windstream Drive in Columbia, faces a maximum sentence of 180 years in federal prison and fines of $9 million if found guilty. Berkle, 41, who lives in the 4600 block of Manor Hill Lane in Ellicott City, faces a possible maximum sentence of 80 years and fines of $4.85 million if convicted.

The defendants had taken over Preferred Indemnity Insurance Co. of Old Bridge, N.J., on or about April 1990 without seeking or obtaining New Jersey's approval for the transfer, the indictment states.

In June 1990, the New Jersey Insurance Department ordered the defendants to immediately stop writing insurance at the Preferred and to cancel outstanding policies and to return all premiums.

But the defendants allegedly failed to inform their policyholders of the order and continued to collect premiums, the indictment said. When the men learned that New Jersey authorities were about to seize their insurance company, they attempted to transfer the premiums deposited in an Illinois bank account to a bank in Zurich, Switzerland, the indictment charges.

In the indictment, the Bramsons also were charged with conspiracy to commit a $725,000 extortion, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and mail fraud in connection with malpractice insurance that Preferred Indemnity wrote for 60,000 nurses nationwide.

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