LaPlace insurance agent’s theft trial postponed

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 2004


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A LaPlace insurance agent charged earlier this year with misappropriating insurance funds valued at $13,000 was granted a continuance Wednesday when his case went to court.

Christopher Anthony Poche, 30, of 459 Yetta Ave, Harvey, was arrested and served a cease and desist order on Feb. 3 after the State Police Fraud Unit accused him with 183 counts of unfair trade practices and premium theft.

Poche, whose office was located at 1036 W. Airline Highway, was also served with a summary suspension of his life and health insurance license.

Initial cause for investigation was due to an inquiry that showed up during an audit of the company. Several customers had also voiced concerns.

Last week, David Lozano said a preliminary exam and a trial status were set for Oct. 20.

He said Assistant District Attorney George Ann Graugnard would be prosecuting Poche’s case before Judge J. Sterling Snowdy in Division C.

Reviewing Poche’s records, Lozano conveyed the insurance agent previously entered a plea of not guilty and asserted Poche’s charge had been amended to theft over $500.

Lozano explained the amended charge included all financial theft involved in the original 183 counts of unfair trade practices.

“It would be too difficult to round up 183 individuals for court. The financial obligation for each count was added up. The sum came to over $500. Therefore, the charge was amended to theft over $500. With this charge, it is not necessary for each person to testify in court,” reasoned Lozano.

According to Lozano, the new charge could render a fine up to $3,000 and/or a prison term up to 10 years with or without hard labor.

Dawn Craft with the Commissioner of Insurance Licensing Agency said Poche applied for a license renewal in March – one month after his arrest.

Craft said Poche’s application was received on April 26 and was reviewed by management.

According to Craft, management had approximately eight weeks to review Poche’s application.

She said the team turned the request down and gave him 30 days to appeal the decision.

“His file is flagged,” said Craft. “He can try again in one year, but he will not receive a new license unless the cease and desist is cleared.”

According to Lozano, a new date has not been set for the continuance.