Insurance Agency Owner Arrested, Charged with Defrauding Multiple Victims of $1.5 Million
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that EARL O’GARRO, JR., 31, of Marlborough, was arrested today on an indictment alleging that he defrauded multiple victims of a total of approximately $1.5 million. Yesterday, a federal grand jury in New Haven returned the indictment, which charges O’GARRO with one count of wire fraud.
O’GARRO appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford and entered a plea of not guilty. He was released on a $500,000 bond.
According to the indictment, O’GARRO was the President, Chief Executive Officer and an owner of Hartford-based Hybrid Insurance Agency, LLC, doing business as Hybrid Insurance Group (“Hybrid”), an insurance brokerage specializing in placing wholesale and specialty line insurance products. In January 2012, O’GARRO, on behalf of Hybrid, submitted an application to the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (“DECD”) pursuant to the Small Business Express loan and grant program. The purpose of the application was to secure a Small Business Express loan in the amount of $100,000 and a Small Business Express grant in the amount of $26,320. It is alleged that O’GARRO provided false and misleading information concerning Hybrid’s financial condition on the application. In particular, O’GARRO falsely inflated the value of Hybrid’s cash assets in order to increase the likelihood that his application would be approved for the amount of funds he sought. Based in part on the false statements contained in O’GARRO’s application and a subsequent formal agreement, DECD approved Hybrid’s Small Business Express application and awarded Hybrid a Small Business Express loan in the amount of $100,000 and $26,320 matching grant.
The indictment further alleges that, in July 2013, O’GARRO sent a series of electronic communications to a company that administers the payment of premiums on behalf of insured entities (“Victim 1”). In the communications, O’GARRO falsely claimed that he was an officer and underwriter for an insurance company (“Insurance Company 1”) with authority to direct Victim 1 to release premium payments. Acting in his assumed capacity, O’GARRO directed Victim 1 to remit to Hybrid premium payments for policies associated with four corporate entities purportedly insured by Insurance Company 1. Three of the four companies, Blaque Rock Capital LLP d/b/a Us Restaurant, Marlbro’s Restaurant Group LLP d/b/a Us Restaurant, and Epplied Staffing Solutions LLC, were registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State and associated with O’GARRO. The fourth company, D&D Moving Company, was not registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State, but was utilized by O’GARRO as a repository for fraudulently obtained funds. In fact, Insurance Company 1 had not issued any policies for any of these entities. In response to the fraudulent communications created by O’GARRO, Victim 1 remitted approximately $691,266.75 to Hybrid, which O’GARRO then converted to his own use.
Hybrid was a wholesale broker for certain insurance policies held by the City of Hartford. The indictment further alleges that, in July 2013, O’GARRO directed the city to transfer $868,244 to Hybrid. Of that sum, $441,900 constituted a premium payment to an insurance company offering excess liability insurance policies and $228,097 constituted a premium payment to a second insurer. O’GARRO did not remit either of the premium payments, and instead converted the money to his own use. O’GARRO subsequently advised the city that the premium payments had been remitted to the insurers.
If convicted of wire fraud, O’GARRO faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Daly stated that the investigation is ongoing.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Mattei.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford.