A 46-year-old man was sentenced to embezzling more than $30,000 from people in Santa Clara County, a deputy district attorney said today. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Deborah Ryan sentenced Ernie Boyd Morris last Tuesday to six months in jail, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Kwok said. Morris was also ordered to pay four victims $30,247.06 in restitution, Kwok said. On June 4, he pleaded no contest to one count of identity theft, six counts of grand theft and six counts of theft of funds by acting as an agent or broker, Kwok said. Morris, a Marina resident, had targeted seven people by persuading them to purchase auto, business or workers’ compensation insurance through him from 2010 to 2011, Kwok said. Morris would then pocket their money instead of buying the policies and mislead his victims to believe that they had coverage, in some cases providing false insurance certificates to them, according to Kwok. In March 2011, the state Department of Insurance initiated an investigation into Morris based on an allegation that he was selling insurance without a license, Kwok said.
Investigators learned Morris’s license expired years before, Kwok said. “It was very fortunate that the victims did not need to make a claim on any of the policies because none of the victims actually had insurance coverage as a result of the fraud,” Kwok said. Most people should receive a policy when buying insurance but if they don’t it should be a red flag for the buyer, according to Kwok. On April 15, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Mark Hood sentenced Morris to five years of felony probation and 180 days in jail, Deputy District Attorney Carol Reed said. He was charged with two counts of theft of funds by a broker or agent and one count of identity theft in the case involving five victims, Reed said. As part of his sentence, Morris cannot be in an establishment where gambling or bingo are the main form of business and cannot gamble online, according to Reed. Morris was ordered to pay more than $39,043.61 to four victims, she said. He also cannot work in a job involving “fiduciary responsibility” unless he obtains bond status, proper licenses and notifies his employer of his conviction, Reed said. An insurance broker’s license can be checked through the Department of Insurance at (800) 967-9331 or http://www.insurance.ca.gov.
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