Manatee insurance broker charged with stealing more than $400K in premiums

MANATEE — A local insurance broker already with two homes in foreclosure and facing lawsuits by a credit card company has now been arrested on a charge he bilked an insurance company out of more than $400,000.

Gary Alan Adams, 63, of 7416 Prospect Road, and owner of Adams Group Insurance, is accused of collecting insurance premiums from a client while acting as a broker, but never turning the funds over to the company that owned the policy, according to a Florida Department of Financial Services arrest report.

Detectives say Adams collected $410,394 in premiums from Marshfield Clinic, a chain of health care facilities based in Wisconsin, on behalf of Standard Insurance Company, an Oregon-based firm. Adams collected commissions from Standard on the premiums, according to financial services Detective Steven Firestone.

But when Marshfield cancelled the insurance policy, officials with Standard realized Adams had been collecting premiums but not been turning the funds over to Standard.

Investigation revealed that Adams had been taking in premiums and using the money on personal commercial investment ventures, according to Firestone.

“It is our understanding this went on for years,” he said.

Firestone arrested Adams last week on a charge of theft of more than $100,000. He has since been released from the Sarasota County jail on $15,000 bond.

A phone number listed on Adams’ business website was disconnected. The website described Adams as a “significant player in the group insurance marketplace.”

“Clients now include some of the largest medical groups in the country, plus groups of all sizes. His company has a staff of employees as committed as he is to servicing their clients’ needs and cultivating new relationships,” the website states.

In the days leading up this arrest, Adams also found himself the target in Manatee court of several lawsuits.

American Express has filed suit to collect $45,197 on an account Adams defaulted on, according to court records. Also, American Express is looking to collect $57,032 on another account in name of his wife, Diane, and Adams Group Communications Inc., of which Adams is listed as an officer/director, according to the Florida Division of Corporations.

Also, earlier this week, U.S. Bank National filed for foreclosure on Adams’ property at 7330 Prospect Road, on which he holds a $469,120 mortgage. Bank of America also filed for foreclosure in March on Adams’ property at 5724 63rd St. E., on the Braden River. He has a mortgage on that property of $235,855.

The Braden River property has been the source of controversy in the past. In 2007, Adams and his wife got into hot water with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after agents ruled they had illegally dredged channels in the Evers Reservoir behind the property. DEP officials ordered the Adamses had to restore the property and shoreline at their expense.