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Stockton man sentenced in crop insurance fraud scheme

A Stockton man will spend the next few years in federal prison for filing false claims for crop insurance benefits.

Gregory Peter Torlai Jr., 50, was convicted on 16 counts of submitting fraudulent statements in insurance applications for crops in San Joaquin, Lassen and Contra Costa counties, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

The statements affect policies issued by reinsurance companies with which the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation contracts, the Attorney’s Office said. The policies help provide government insurance to growers who sustain unavoidable crop losses.

The conviction was made in February and Torlai was sentenced Wednesday.

Torlai filed claims for crop insurance benefits for roughly $340,000, and made false statements about the extent of his ownership interest in various farming operations. He also misled authorities regarding the types of crops and amount of acreage, the Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Torlai’s actions took place from 2000 to 2005.

He will spend the next 21⁄2 years in prison, receive three years of supervised release and must pay a $211,516 in restitution, United States District Judge John A. Mendez ruled.

“I was not happy with the length of the prison sentence, but I felt the judge treated the case fairly,” said Torlai’s attorney, Donald Heller. “He has accepted responsibility for his actions.”

Heller argued that Torlai’s sentence should be a year and a day, because he agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the United States, but Mendez ruled that Torlai’s sentence should “not just cost him financially,” according to the press release. The stiffer sentence was due to the judge wanting to send a message to others thinking of committing a similar crime, the Attorney’s Office said.

Torlai collected nearly $141,000 in crop insurance payments he was not entitled to, the Attorney’s Office said. He also filed fraudulent claims in an attempt to receive approximately $200,000 more in fraudulent crop insurance payments, according to the press release.

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

July 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Insurance News