Insurance agent admits stealing schools' money Defendant took premiums paid to cover athletes

November 07, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former Annapolis insurance agent admitted yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that he pocketed thousands of dollars of local school board insurance premiums, which prosecutors said he used to buy a Jaguar and pay country club fees and child support.

Andrew Lloyd Taylor, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. One count of insurance fraud will be dropped.

Taylor took premiums for catastrophic coverage of student athletes in 1996 from 14 school boards and from the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis but did not pay for the policies.

When Taylor is sentenced Jan. 25, prosecutors are to recommend that he serve one year in jail, be placed on probation for two years and repay nearly $60,000 to the company that covered the missing school system premiums and to the ballet )) company whose policy was not renewed.

Carroll McCabe, Taylor's attorney, declined to comment and offered no explanation for the theft, though she is expected to argue against jail time for her client. Taylor told the judge he was being treated for depression.

Taylor, formerly of the 400 block of Wind Whisper Lane in Annapolis, had run a small insurance company in Annapolis that he called Mayberry Benefit Systems, a reference to the town where the Andy Taylor television character flourished.

The school boards -- including those in Carroll, Montgomery and Queen Anne's counties -- bought coverage from Taylor for the 1996-1997 school year under a program sponsored by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. But he did not forward nearly $130,000 in premiums to Maksin Management of New Jersey, court records show.

When Maksin tried to contact Taylor's office in October 1996, it found he had moved to South Carolina, said Michael A. DiPietro, the assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case. By then, Taylor had spent $70,000.

"This went to support a lifestyle to which he had become accustomed," DiPietro said.

Taylor initially told Maksin his assistant failed to forward the premiums, but within weeks he admitted the theft. He was arrested in July as he left a state insurance commission hearing that led to the revocation of his state insurance license.

Ballet Theatre of Annapolis didn't know it had no insurance coverage for the 1996-1997 season until it tried to renew its policy, said Janet Morgan, executive director and former board member. The previous director, Deborah Harris, wondering why no renewal bill had arrived, called Maksin, she said.

"They said what renewal, you don't have a policy with us," Morgan said.

The ballet company had a canceled check for $945 for the policy.

"The guy had flown the coop, and we were out the money," Morgan said. "We were very lucky we had no injuries that year."

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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