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Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Connecticut broker loses appeal after milking clients, insurers

November 02, 2017, Hartford, CT — A federal court on Thursday brushed aside an appeal by Hartford insurance broker Earl O’Garro, who claimed he was wrongly convicted of charges that he stole more than a $1 million from lenders and clients such as the city of Hartford in order to buy a posh Caribbean condominium and other luxuries.

O’Garro, an ambitious, young broker with his own successful agency, was convicted of three counts of fraud and sentenced to 6½ years in prison in 2010. He provoked months of contentious finger-pointing at City Hall in 2013 when he “misappropriated” $900,000 in Hartford insurance premiums.

Records surfaced showing that city Treasurer Adam Cloud intervened in the insurance contracting process to have the premium paid directly to O’Garro, who was renting downtown office space for his Hybrid Insurance agency from Cloud’s family.

Cloud said he was deceived by O’Garro, now 34, after offering a helping hand to an up-and-coming minority businessman in a minority city.

O’Garro argued in his appeal to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that his trial judge gave his jury incorrect instructions about how to apply criminal fraud law to his case. The appeals court said the judge instructed the jury properly and, what’s more, the judge gave the jury the precise instruction O’Garro’s trial lawyer asked for.

“In the present case O’Garro requested a jury instruction concerning the right-to-control theory that was identical in every material respect to the now-challenged instruction actually given by the District Court,” the appellate decision said. “Thus, O’Garro waived his right to review of the District Court’s jury instruction by ’inviting’ the language at issue in this appeal.”

O’Garro also claimed that his defense, by the federal public defender’s office, was ineffective. The federal appeals judges told him to raise that issue in the district court.

Federal prosecutors argued to O’Garro’s jury that he ran Hybrid, which he opened in 2010, as if it were a personal fundraising operation and a means to finance an over-the-top lifestyle.

Records compiled by a variety of government agencies show that, before he was 30, O'Garro was living in an exurban mini-mansion, had flown dozens of friends to Jamaica for his wedding at the Ritz Carlton, drove $100,000 sedans, bought his wife a restaurant, paid $19,000 a year on private school tuition for his toddlers, called tailors to his offices to fit his suits and was paying $8,000-a-month to rent offices from Cloud's family.

O’Garro pressed his appeal in part by himself and through a lawyer in Portland, Maine.

Source: Hartford Courant

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