LOS ANGELES – A former licensed public adjuster was convicted of multiple charges resulting from the theft of over $400,000 from people who lost their home in fires.
Manuel Villa, 60, of San Clemente, a former licensed public adjuster was arrested last year after receiving multiple complaints from consumers. Through investigation, it was learned that Villa who was doing business as Statewide Claims Advisors, cashed and deposited claims checks with counterfeit endorsement seals that were issued by insurance companies to fire victims to repair and rebuild their damaged properties.
“These consumers were victimized twice,” said Commissioner Jones. “Once when their home was damaged by fire and then again when Villa allegedly forged endorsements on their insurance payments and stole the money intended to rebuild their homes.”
California Department of Insurance officials said that Villa solicited the fire victims and convinced them to sign public adjuster contracts allowing him to handle their claims. Trusting the Villa would conduct business legally, they signed the papers. When Villa received the checks, he deposited them in his business accounts and diverted the funds for personal use.
Some of the victims desperately needed to rebuild their home. While some funds were released to contractors, using forged endorsements, for another repair Villa hired an unlicensed contractor. The work of the unlicensed contractor was substandard and led to an addition house fire at the same home.
On Monday, May 15, 2017, Villa was convicted of two felony counts of embezzlement, grand theft and two felony counts of forgery counterfeit seal. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. His restitution hearing is scheduled for June 20, 2017.
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