October 24, 2008                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Criminal Charges Filed for Theft by Insurance Fraud

      Helena, MT- October 24, 2008 - Today, criminal charges were filed in the Second Judicial District Court in Butte alleging Ben Thielen committed theft by insurance fraud. The charges were filed by Special Deputy County Attorney for Butte-Silver Bow, Roberta Cross Guns. Cross Guns is also a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State Auditorís Office. The maximum penalty for the offense of theft by insurance fraud, a felony due to the value of property involved exceeding $1,000, can result in a fine up to $50,000 and/or a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
      The Insurance Department for the State Auditorís Office conducted an investigation into claims that Thielen was paid on an insurance claim for items he alleged were stolen from his home sometime between January 15, 2006 and March 11, 2006. Thielen told local law enforcement that he believed the items were stolen by his former wife, but neglected that fact when making the claim on the insurance policy that was jointly owned by Thielen and his former wife.
      Later, in documents submitted and through testimony from Thielen related to the divorce from his wife, Thielen again accused his former wife of taking the reportedly stolen items, but stated that they were taken sometime between July 1, 2007 and July 14, 2007. Thielen would not be entitled to payment on the claim had the insurance company known he was accusing his spouse of taking jointly owned property that was insured under a jointly owned insurance policy. Thielen received approximately $14,255.00 from the insurance company.
      Thielen, according to records kept by the State Auditors Insurance Department, is currently licensed by the Montana Insurance Department as a surety insurance producer, and has been licensed since 1997 with the exception of a period where the license lapsed due to non-compliance with continuing education requirements. According to these records, Thielen is appointed as an insurance agent with Sun Surety Insurance Company and he owns and operates AA Bail Bonds in Butte, Montana.