An insurance broker has been indicted for stealing $350,000 in premium payments from a construction contractor client, causing the contractor to be unknowingly uninsured on 14 building projects across Manhattan.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvn Bragg on Feb. 8 said Scott Kirtland, 54, from White Plains has been charged with grand larceny and and Scheme to Defraud, among other charges from client Real Dependable Contracting Corp. (RDC), which specializes in roof replacement and façade work for residential construction projects.
“Our Rackets Bureau’s commitment to construction-industry integrity continues with this indictment of an insurance broker accused of pocketing nearly $350,000 – leaving his client unknowingly uninsured for four years while they conducted construction projects at 14 buildings in Manhattan,” Bragg said in a statement. “Any accident or injury would have left Kirtland’s client liable without the support of insurance – which could have had potentially devastating consequences. Insurance brokers have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard funds provided by their clients, and the integrity of the industry relies on brokers properly upholding that obligation.”
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Kirtland, an insurance broker, owned and operated a brokerage company called Stirling Insurance Services LLC. The alleged fraud and theft occured between June 2016 and February 2021.
In June 2016, Kirtland obtained general liability and excess liability insurance policies for RDC totaling $96,702. Instead of paying for the policies in full, Kirtland made a portion of the payments and proceeded to embezzle $28,565 of the funds. In March 2017, Kirtland received notices of cancellation of the policies due to non-payment, and later received a partial refund of $3,389. However, he never alerted RDC that the policies were cancelled or provided them with the refunded money. Over the next three years, RDC provided Kirtland with $316,000 in additional funds for payment of the already-defunct policies.
Further investigation uncovered that Kirtland stole insurance policy funds from at least three other clients and used other sources of money to conceal those thefts. On at least one occasion, Kirtland used money stolen from RDC to hide a prior theft. Kirtland used the remainder of the stolen funds for personal living expenses, including: credit card payments, apartment maintenance fees, and office rent.
In furtherance of the scheme, Kirtland provided RDC and others with fraudulent Certificates of Liability Insurance (COI) appearing to show the company as insured from June 2017 to June 2021.
Four of the falsified COIs were filed with the New York City Department of Buildings. As a result of the fraudulent filings, RDC was issued 24 work permits for construction projects at 14 buildings across Manhattan, including: 115 Mercer Street in SoHo, 25 Indian Road and 75 Park Terrace East in Inwood, 270 Greenwich Street in Tribeca, and others.
Kirtland created additional COIs that were filed with a property management company that hired RDC to compete a facade restoration project at an apartment building on East 60th Street in Manhattan. Additionally, he created COIs that were filed with insurance consulting companies hired by one of the largest property management companies in New York City, which allowed RDC to complete construction at buildings managed by that company.
In November 2020, an insurance consulting company began a review of RDC’s insurance policies in relation to a construction project in Manhattan. Kirtland provided the consulting company with forged documents purporting to show that RDC was insured.
Ultimately, in March 2021, the consulting company uncovered that the policies had been cancelled due to non-payment. At that time, the consulting company alerted RDC that its policies had been cancelled in March 2017 and that it had been operating without insurance ever since. A few days later, Kirtland failed to join a conference call where he was scheduled to provide evidence of payment of RDC’s premiums and the consulting company reported the thefts to the Manhattan DA’s Office.