March 24, 2006
Attorney General Corbett accuses former Bucks County insurance agent with adding bogus clauses to customer contracts to boost sales and commissions
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced that a former Bucks County insurance agent was arrested and charged with adding bogus interest rates and withdrawal terms to his customers' annuity contracts unbeknownst to his employer. The altered policies allegedly netted the defendant in excess of $16,000 in commissions.
Agents with the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section arrested and charged Richard Nightlinger, 49, of 4533 Remo Crescent Drive, Bensalem, Bucks County, with one count each of insurance fraud, theft by deception and deceptive business practices, all felony offenses.
Nightlinger, a licensed insurance agent, sold insurance policies and annuities for the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America to consumers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
According to the charges, the defendant, through January 2005 added clauses to several customers' annuity contracts without the knowledge or approval of Allianz officials. The phony clauses were typically buried within the summary pages of the documents.
Corbett said Nightlinger is charged with adding erroneous statements to the contracts including a "five year guaranteed interest of 8%," and "no penalty or tax" will be assessed if the "contract holder or dependent is attending a post-secondary institution full time."
"There is no doubt that the phony interest rate and made-up withdrawal terms were extremely enticing and generated a lot of business for the defendant," Corbett said. "We allege however, that the customer sales incentive was a fraud and that Nightlinger engaged in theft by taking commissions on the altered policies."
According to the charges, the alleged scheme was uncovered by customers who learned from Allianz that the clause was not approved. As a result, the company agreed to refund customers a total of $180,900 in premiums and interest.
Nightlinger was arraigned Thursday, before Bensalem Magisterial Justice Leonard J. Brown and was released on $75,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing has been set for 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 29.
The case will be prosecuted in Bucks County Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Gregg Shore of the Attorney General's Insurance Fraud Section in Norristown.
Corbett said a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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EDITORS NOTE: A copy of the criminal complaint and photo of the defendant is available by contacting the Attorney General's Press Office at 717-787-5211.