A county commissioner in Glynn County, Georgia has been arrested together with his wife for workers’ compensation insurance fraud. Together, they are facing 15 felony counts, including six of insurance fraud. If convicted of any of the insurance fraud counts, they face mandatory prison time.
The Enforcement Division of the State Board of Worker’s Compensation had carried out a yearlong investigation into the business activities of Bob Coleman, age 69, and his wife Sherry Coleman, age 59, before they were arrested. The couple was indicted before a grand jury last week.
According to a press release issued by the board, “The Colemans have been charged with defrauding customers who paid the pair for workers’ compensation insurance as well as other lines of insurance. The indictment handed down includes ten separate victims.”
Bob Coleman was seen as a respected member of his community. He was elected to the Glynn County Commission for a third time in 2016, holding the At-Large Post 2 seat. A spokesman for Glynn County, Matthew Kent, said he was unaware of a precedent for this situation in the county.
“At this time, we are working to make sure that the [county commission] is aware of the situation,” said Mike Browning, chair of the Glynn County Commission. “This is a matter for the [commissioners] and our county attorney to address and discuss next steps.”
Felony Count 1 alleges that the Colemans, working at the Coleman Insurance Agency, gave a fake certificate of insurance to one of their clients, Serafini Construction. It listed Moises Hernandez, operating as Hernandez Construction, as the party who was insured. The policy apparently showed Hernandez Construction had workers’ compensation insurance coverage from Berkshire Hathaway. Sherry Coleman, it is alleged, knew the certificate to be fake.
Counts 2, 3, and 15 similarly allege that Coleman Insurance presented fake certificates to various businesses which appeared to show they had insurance coverage when, in fact, they did not. Nine of the other counts allege the Colemans violated state requirements for the reporting and disposition of premiums. The events listed in the indictment took place between 2016 and 2018.
On 1 August 2018, the Colemans sold the Coleman Insurance Agency to Jeffrey Guest, owner of Family First Insurance. At the time of purchase, he was unaware the Colemans were under investigation. It was not until 29 October that he learned of the investigation.
“From all indications, they were aware of this [the investigation] yet did not disclose this to me,” explained Guest. “Because it wasn’t disclosed to me, I am in the middle of this mess.”
Guest says he will help all existing clients of Coleman Insurance who are not the victims of fraud. “I’m here to provide them with service. Feel free to contact me, come to my office, whatever. … I don’t want them panicking.”
For those who believe they may have been a victim of the Colemans’ fraud, however, Guest advises they reach out to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
Doug Williams, a criminal investigator at the workers’ compensation board, was not available for comment. He explained he could not provide more information as the investigation into the Colemans’ business activities were still ongoing. It is even possible that further victims may surface.
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