A Salt Lake insurance agent charged with bilking his company of nearly $1 million has pleaded guilty to 10 second-degree felonies in connection with the scheme.
Keith H. Horrocks, 44, of West Jordan and Midway, Wasatch County, pleaded guilty to nine counts of forgery and a reduced count of "pattern and practice of criminal behavior" under a racketeering statute Friday before 3rd District Judge Kenneth Rigtrup, attorneys said.He was originally charged with one count of communications fraud, a first-degree felony, and nine counts of forgery.
According to court documents, the former New York Life insurance agent submitted about 1,200 forged and fake insurance applications to the company and collected more then $900,000 in commissions in less than one year.
But Salt Lake County deputy attorney Greg Skordas said investigators now believe Horrocks forged 1,920 applications since February of 1989.
In that month, Skordas said, Horrocks submitted one forged or fraudulent application. The next month, he submitted two. He submitted six in April of 1989, nine in May and 10 in June. "Then it just goes crazy from there," Skordas said. "It just kept ballooning."
In April of 1990, Horrocks allegedly submitted 231 and then wrote more than 300 false insurance applications in July. Most of the policies were written for $95,000 worth of coverage. New York Life policy requires that each applicant receive a blood test for coverage over $100,000.
"You can't take blood from people who don't exist," Skordas said.
As part of the plea bargain, four counties and the U.S. government have agreed not to file any additional charges against Horrocks, said his defense attorney, Ron Yengich.
Horrocks is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 11. Skordas said he will ask the judge to sentence him to prison. Each second-degree felony carries a penalty of 1 to 15 years. But should the judge order that he serve time in prison, Yengich said the prosecution has agreed to recommend that any sentence be served concurrently, meaning the most he would ever serve is 15 years.
But Yengich said his client has psychological problems and he's not convinced Horrocks is an appropriate candidate for prison. An in-house therapy program is one option he may ask the judge to consider.
"We'll need to take a closer look at him to see what the problems are," he said. "But I don't look at him as a danger to the community."
New York Life filed a civil suit against Horrocks seeking more than $900,000 in compensatory damages. The suit was never contested and a judgment was issued against him. Skordas said Horrocks' assets will be forfeited to the state.
An advertisement in the Oct. 9 Deseret News lauded the father of five for his insurance sales accomplishments. "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 ad stated.
Horrocks' former supervisob, Randall D. Peck, 31, of Riverton, was charged last month with theft by deception and an alternative charge of communications fraud, alleging that he defrauding New York Life of $32,000, according to court documents and police reports.
Prosecutors say Peck divided the applications that Horrocks submitted among other agents under his supervision so that each agent could reach a position of honor in the company - thereby increasing his commission.
Peck was scheduled to appear before 3rd Circuit Judge Floyd Gowans Tuesday.