Former Insurance Agent Sentenced for Stealing $220,000 from Elderly Clients, Including Late Art Dealer
John Philip Ryan, a 64-year-old resident of Yucca Valley, has been sentenced and ordered to pay restitution of more than $220,000 to his victims after pleading guilty to two felony charges of financial elder abuse and grand theft of insurance premiums.
The California Department of Insurance conducted an investigation that uncovered Ryan’s fraudulent activities, in which he exploited his position as a licensed insurance agent to embezzle money from his clients, some of which was meant for insurance premium payments.
Ryan’s insurance licenses and licensing rights have been revoked, and he has been banned from engaging in any insurance-related business.
Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara stated, “This insurance agent gained his clients’ trust in order to access their money and then stole from them with no regard for their livelihoods. My Department will not tolerate agents who harm consumers, especially the elderly.
This case is a great example of the actions my Department and our law enforcement partners will take to stop bad actors and protect California consumers.”
The investigation was launched in 2017 after a former employee of Ryan filed a complaint with the Department, alleging that he had failed to remit insurance premiums to the appropriate companies. One of the victims affected by Ryan’s crimes was Gregg Juarez, a former art dealer and philanthropist who passed away in May 2018 at the age of 94.
Exploiting his position as Juarez’s longtime insurance agent, Ryan gained the trust of his client and exploited the access he had to financial documents and information. Search warrants executed on Ryan’s bank accounts uncovered evidence that he misappropriated $87,000 from Juarez over a span of at least two years.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan remarked, “A measure of justice has been delivered for 12 of Defendant Ryan’s clients in San Diego and Riverside Counties, including vulnerable elders, who fell prey to Ryan’s schemes. As an agent, Ryan took criminal advantage of their confidences for personal financial gain.
Thanks to a thorough investigation by the California Department of Insurance working with an expert prosecution team from my office, Ryan stands convicted and sentenced and can no longer participate in insurance transactions, which will prevent him from victimizing seniors in this way in the future.”
Throughout the investigation, it was discovered that Ryan conducted insurance transactions under the names “Calinsured,” “Greater Palm Springs Insurance,” and “PS Independent Insurance.” Eleven additional victims were identified, including another client in their 80s, bringing the total amount stolen by Ryan from all victims to over $220,000.
The Department of Insurance urges current and former clients of John Philip Ryan to review their insurance policies and contact the respective insurance companies to verify the validity of their coverage and confirm the receipt of any funds they may have given to Ryan.
This case serves as a reminder to remain vigilant and exercise caution when dealing with financial matters, especially involving elderly individuals who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The California Department of Insurance remains committed to protecting consumers from fraudulent activities and holding accountable those who breach the trust placed in them as insurance agents.