A Salt Lake executive who was lauded in a recent newspaper advertisement for his insurance sales accomplishments has been charged with 10 felony counts alleging he bilked nearly $1 million in commissions from his company in less than a year.
Keith H. Horrocks, 44, vice president of the New York Life Insurance Company's "New York Life Council," was charged Tuesday with nine counts of forgery and one count of communications fraud, said Salt Lake County Deputy Attorney Greg Skordas.Investigators said Horrocks, who has residences in Midway, Wasatch County, and West Jordan, has submitted forged and fraudulently prepared insurance applications to New York Life and then collected more than $900,000 in commissions since December 1989.
According to a search warrant filed in 3rd Circuit Court, Horrocks would submit the applications and the first month's premiums and in turn would receive a commission equal to at least 55 percent of the first year's total premiums.
New York Life discovered the fraud last week, and on Friday, Horrocks was fired.
Salt Lake Police Detective Wade Wayment questioned Horrocks and said he believes the salesman submitted between 1,000 and 1,200 fictitious applications. For each of the applications, he received commissions ranging from $700 to $800, according to the search warrant.
"I've never been involved in a case like this," Wayment said.
Horrocks was recognized in an Oct. 9 Deseret News advertisement touting him for attaining one of the company's top honors. The ad featured Horrocks in a photograph with New York Life President George Bundschuh and Chairman Harry Hohn.
The advertisement copy stated the father of five worked from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day to build his client base and acquired 1,400 clients in two years. Court documents allege that most of the applications were falsified.The ad congratulated Horrocks for achieving the honorary title in rec-ord time: "If the first two years of his business are any indication of what's to come, we're sure you'll be reading a lot more about him."
The search warrant was executed Friday at his downtown office, 170 S. Main. Detectives recovered $9,700 in cash and a number of completed or partially completed life insurance application forms.
"As soon as we suspected fraudulent activity, we moved swiftly to get this information to law enforcement officials in Utah," said Linda Staniar, New York Life's vice president of public relations.
"The normal checks and balances in the system did not trigger an irregularity in the Horrocks case," she said, explaining the policies carried a "low face value" and did not require a medical examination.
The company also filed a civil suit against Horrocks last week in 3rd District Court seeking more than $900,000 in compensatory damages for "fraudulent presentation of applications for life insurance policies."
The suit states Horrocks submitted thousands of false applications. Each apparently listed a post office box that he owned, where all premium notices and demands were sent.
Company investigators discovered that approximately $353,000 in outstanding back premiums had not been paid on policies covering applicants Horrocks had signed up, according to the suit.
The suit also said Horrocks intended to submit "hundreds of applications within the next few days."