Insurance executive admits bilking clients

January 14, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

A prominent 49-year-old Harford County insurance executive pleaded guilty to writing more than 700 bogus automobile insurance policies in 1992 and keeping the premiums for his own use.

Robert A. Lassen of the 3000 block of Creswell Road in Aberdeen entered the plea Tuesday for theft of more than $500,000 before Circuit Court Judge William O. Carr.

Judge Carr ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for Feb. 22.

Lassen, who formerly operated the Mid-Atlantic Brokerage Co. from his North Main Street office in Bel Air, could receive up to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

In the statement of facts, Christopher J. Romano, the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, said that Lassen wrote automobile insurance policies for high-risk drivers through a company known as Assicurazioni Generali SPA.

That firm notified Lassen Jan. 17, 1992, that he no longer had authority to write policies in its name, said Mr. Romano. Lassen, however, wrote more than 700 policies during the next eight months and collected the money from unsuspecting customers, Mr. Romano said.

The money was used in part for personal expenses, including repayment of personal loans, and paying for college tuition for his children and membership fees at Winter's Run Golf Club, where Lassen was vice president from 1977 to 1992, said Mr. Romano.

In November 1992, Lassen entered into a consent agreement with the state insurance division, admitting he had no authority to write policies for the Generali company.

In turn, the insurance division placed Mid-Atlantic Brokerage in receivership until more than $100,000 in accident claims against the bogus policies could be resolved.

Lassen was active in the Jaycees, various insurance associations and served as chairman of several charitable foundations, said Mr. Romano.

The state has agreed to recommend an eight-year prison sentence with three to serve and five suspended, said Mr. Romano. Full restitution is a must, he said.

Charles Kearney Jr., Lassen's Bel Air attorney, is free to argue for a lesser sentence, said Mr. Romano.

Attempts to reach Mr. Kearney were unsuccessful.

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