Aug. 20, 2008                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Up to ten years in prison and $300,000 fine could be imposed
      Montana State Auditor John Morrison announced that Bozeman resident Mark Anthony Boone pleaded guilty earlier this week in the 18th Judicial District Court in Bozeman to six counts of felony insurance fraud/theft. Morrison’s office alleged that Boone pawned his cement tools, reported them as stolen to law enforcement and then filed fraudulent insurance claims with his insurance company. Boone repeated this pawn shop scheme six times, ultimately defrauding Zurich American Insurance Company out of $20,738.
      "This type of insurance scam is illegal and far from victimless,” said Morrison. “Offenders of insurance fraud are stealing from every law-abiding Montanan who pays insurance premiums."
      The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Montana State Auditor’s Office. At sentencing, Boone faces up to ten years in prison, and/or up to $50,000 in fines for each count. Boone could be ordered to pay $20,738 in restitution as well. Sentencing is set for October 6, 2008.
      “Protecting consumers and ridding the state of this type of costly, illegal activity will continue to be a top priority at the State Auditor’s Office,” said Morrison. “Our vigorous investigation and prosecution efforts should serve as notice to others who would attempt to engage in this type of insurance scam that it won’t be tolerated.”
      Because many important cases have begun with anonymous tips from the public, Morrison encourages Montana residents who are concerned about insurance cheating and who may have information about insurance fraud to contact the Investigations Division of the Montana State Auditor’s Office at 1-800-332-6148.