Hall of Shame 2010: James Kalfsbeek and Donna Jean RoweBy James Quiggle
January 2, 2011
Devlish “Christian” insurer milks motorists
A so-called Christian auto insurer turned hellish for trusting policyholders.
James Kalfsbeek and Donna Jean Rowe peddled fake auto coverage under the guise of membership in a “Christian” insurer called Puget’s Sound Agricultural Society.
Drivers thought they were covered. But many were saddled with large and unpaid bills when Puget’s Sound refused to pay up.
The California pair ran the con for eight years as fringe members of American society. They declared themselves “sovereign” citizens who ran a “low cost Christian membership society” that didn’t have to follow state fraud laws.
Or, as it turned out, pay valid claims. Governments were “alien corporations” with no authority over “organic, Christian people,” the pair declared.
Ignored larger claims. They organically stole millions of dollars in lifetime membership fees that purportedly served as premiums. But Puget’s Sound refused to pay many valid claims even though it issued insurance cards claiming the outfit was “in compliance with all state law.”
Kalfsbeek and Rowe paid some smaller claims but ignored larger ones. This forced unfortunate members and third-party victims to pay large sums of money from their own pockets.
In one tragic case, a Michigan court awarded a $20-million judgement involving a single-car crash that killed Fred Coty and left Jill Glover severely disabled for life. A Puget’s Sound member drove the vehicle.
“Prosecutors sought a long, long jail term for Kalfsbeek. They cited his “total lack of comprehension and remorse.””Puget’s Sound kindly paid the grieving families with a “Bill of Exchange.” The fraudulent document “authorized” the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to pay the judgement.
A homeless bicycler in South Carolina was severely injured when a Puget’s Sound driver hit him. The “insurer” paid out just $6,000, but only after being sued, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Members pay price “(Puget’s Sound’s) meager payment was not even enough to cover the medical bills, much less pain and suffering and future rehabilitative care,” the U.S. attorney said.
States also suspended the driver licenses of many members when crashes revealed they didn’t have real auto insurance. Members also had to pay the added costs of having their driving privileges reinstated, including higher premiums for real auto coverage.
Prosecutors sought a long, long jail term for Kalfsbeek. They cited his “total lack of comprehension and remorse.” Victims won’t find solace from any fit of conscience by Kalfsbeek. But they found some justice in his 10-year federal sentence and the four years Rowe received.
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