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Relative of state insurance commissioner charged with embezzlement, insurance fraud

January 22, 2010 |  4:02 pm

Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged an auto insurance claims adjustor related to state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner with 60 counts of embezzlement and auto insurance fraud.

Paul Daniel Poizner, an adjustor for California Casualty Management and the second cousin of the Republican gubernatorial candidate, pleaded not guilty today to charges in connection with a scheme in which he allegedly submitted checks for auto claims in excess of the amount required for repairs and pocketed the difference.

In all, prosecutors allege that Paul Poizner stole $300,000, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Poizner, 45, was arrested without incident Thursday morning at his Ventura County home by investigators with the district attorney's Insurance Fraud Bureau of Investigation and was being held on more than $294,000 bail. Authorities said he is expected post bail later today.

The scheme was uncovered during a company audit of auto damage claims that were submitted between May 2008 and February 2009, according to the criminal complaint filed by L.A. County prosecutors.

Darrel Ng, a spokesman for the state insurance commissioner, said California Casualty Management informed prosecutors and his office about their findings in March. After being told the identity of the suspect, the insurance commissioner immediately recused himself from the investigation. 

Paul Poizner is due back in court Feb. 5 for a preliminary hearing.

--Andrew Blankstein