CEO of BLIS International Group Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement From an Employee Benefit Fund
Insurance Brokerage Employee Sentenced for Similar Crime
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 09, 2009|
DENVER—Barney T. Lyles, age 59, a current resident of Hawaii, the former CEO of a now defunct insurance broker company called BLIS International Group, pled guilty today in United States District Court in Denver to the offense of embezzlement from an employee benefit fund. The guilty plea was presented to U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane. Judge Kane is scheduled to sentence Lyles on January 5, 2010. Previously, Brandon T. Ser Voss, age 38, a current residence of Elgin, Illinois, was sentenced by Judge Kane for similar conduct, to serve five years' probation. Ser Voss was ordered to pay restitution totaling $353,445.46 to victims of his crime.
Barney T. Lyles and Brandon T. Ser Voss were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on September 23, 2008. Lyles pled guilty today, October 9, 2009. Ser Voss pled guilty on July 10, 2009, and was sentenced by Judge Kane on October 2, 2009.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the indictment as well as Lyles’ and Ser Voss’s plea agreements, BLIS International Group, a now defunct Colorado corporation based in Denver, was an insurance brokering business that promoted and sold stop-loss insurance coverage. Stop-loss coverage is generally a type of insurance that covers medical expenses associated with catastrophic illness that exceed specified amounts or limits. Barney T. Lyles was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Brandon T. Ser Voss was the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Ser Voss also held titles of Accounting and Marketing Manager, and employee.
From on or about September 30, 2003, through January 16, 2004, Lyles and Ser Voss willfully embezzled $353,400 in funds that were supposed to be used to pay stop-loss health insurance premiums. Client companies pay insurance premiums to the insurance broker, who in turn pays that money to insurance carriers. The monies are to be held in a trust until they are sent to the insurance company. In this case, Lyles and Ser Voss took client money meant for the stop-loss insurance, instead using the funds for their own personal use, and for other purposes.
“Insurance coverage is critical to all of us,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “When someone embezzles money meant to pay insurance premiums, there are numerous victims, especially those who thought they were covered.”
“Theft of plan assets jeopardizes the benefits of American workers and their families,” said Steven Eischen, Director of the Kansas City Regional Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration. “The Department is committed to fighting fraud and abuse in health plans and bringing charges against those who abuse their position of trust.”
“The FBI will continue to work with all our partners to identify and prosecute those who violate our trust,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James H. Davis. “It is our hope that by working together, we can minimize fraud and corruption.”
This case was investigated by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, a division of the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
Lyles and Ser Voss were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.