LAWFUEL – A Van Nuys man has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for selling bogus liability insurance policies to Prime Time Shuttle, which ferried passengers to and from local airports without any insurance coverage for more than two years.
Gurjeet Singh, also known as George Singh, 56, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to two counts of mail fraud.
Singh operated Monika Insurance Services in West Hollywood, even though its license was suspended in 2001. In April 2002, Singh was hired by Amrat Inc., the owner of Prime Time Shuttle, to provide automobile liability insurance for its approximately 100 fleet vans that provided shuttle services to and from the Los Angeles, Burbank, John Wayne, Ontario and Long Beach airports.
When he was first hired, Singh purchased insurance liability coverage from Lloyds of London, but this coverage expired after only four months because Singh did not pay the premiums. Nevertheless, for the next 2½ years, Singh provided Prime Time drivers with fraudulent insurance identification cards that named legitimate insurance carriers. During this period, Singh provided the Public Utility Commissions with fraudulent insurance identification cards for Prime Time Shuttle. He also provided airport personnel with fraudulent and misleading information and Certificate of Insurance documents.
Singh billed and received approximately $1.5 million in premiums from Prime Time Shuttle during the 2½-year period. As Singh admitted in a plea agreement filed in this case: “From August 2002 through January 2005, Prime Time had no insurance at all. Although Prime Time paid for insurance to be purchased from a legitimate American-based carrier from August 2002 through January 2005, I did not purchase such a policy for Prime Time.”
During this period, Prime Time Shuttle customers made personal injury and property damage claims that totaled at least $1.2 million dollars, most of which Singh covered out of his own pocket. Prime Time’s license to operate was suspended by the PUC in early 2005 when it realized that the shuttle service did not have any insurance. Soon after this suspension, Prime Time Shuttle declared bankruptcy.
As part of his plea, Singh acknowledged that 11 people still have claims worth at least $163,000 against Prime Time Shuttle – claims that he admits he is responsible to pay.
“This is an unfortunate example of how one person’s refusal to play by the rules can impact so many,” said Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. “This individual’s action caused a company to go bankrupt, and put many people at risk. Let me make it perfectly clear: insurance fraud of any kind will not be tolerated in California.”
Singh pleaded guilty before United States District Judge George P. Schiavelli, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on April 23. The maximum sentence Judge Schiavelli can impose for each mail fraud count is 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation into Singh was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the California Department of Insurance, Investigation Division, Los Angeles Regional Office.
Release No. 07-009