Alabama insurance agent gets six years for taking premiums, but not paying carriers leaving people uninsured

Published 4:25 pm Friday, January 10, 2020

United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that on January 6, 2020, Thomas “Tommy” Edward Burns of Grand Bay, Alabama was sentenced to 78 months imprisonment and restitution in the amount of $121,208.59 for wire fraud before United States District Judge Jeffery U. Beaverstock.

According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea on August 12, 2019, Thomas Edward Burns, who was the sole owner of the Tommy Burns Agency, LLC, an insurance agency located in Grand Bay, Alabama, sold insurance policies to be issued by various insurance carriers.

Burns would provide potential customers a premium quote for an insurance policy. Once the customer paid the premium, Burns would have the insurance carrier issue the insurance policy or a 30-day binder. Burns took the insurance premiums from customers, but failed to pass along the premiums to the insurance carriers, thereby causing the carriers to cancel many of the policies for nonpayment and leaving individuals and their properties uninsured.

At the sentencing hearing, a Special Agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that at least 51 victims had been identified. Five victims appeared at the sentencing hearing to testify about the impact of having their premiums stolen and their properties left uninsured.

As part of the plea agreement entered into by Burns, the United States also required Burns to immediately surrender all professional licenses, including but not limited to all insurance and brokerage license(s), and to not seek reinstatement of those licenses.

Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Insurance Commission, officers of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office assisted in the investigation of this case. It was prosecuted in the United States Attorney’s Office by Assistant United States Attorney Jamie A. Wilson.