A Federal judge in Atlanta has sentenced one of the partners in the multistate crime spree involving forged Chubb surety bonds to four years, nine months of prison.
Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. also ordered Eric Campbell, a 57-year-old resident of Orange Park, Florida, to pay $1.9 million in restitution to about 20 defrauded contractors. The contractors paid premiums ranging from a few thousand to several hundred thousands of dollars for the faked bonds from August 2012 to July 2013.
According to a press release issued March 24 by the acting U.S. attorney in Atlanta, John Horn, Campbell switched an initial plea of not guilty following his arrest in June, 2014 to guilty. He was convicted in October.
Horn's statement said that Campbell collected premiums worth more than $2.2 million. In a separate tabulation by ENR, Campbell's premiums came to about $3 million.
"The defendant lied to building contractors and government agencies about his qualifications to issue surety bonds," Horn said in his statement. "When his fraud was uncovered and a new valid surety bond had to be found, the construction bidding process was compromised for various projects across the country."
"There were construction delays," Horn continued, "and the construction firms that unwittingly purchased fraudulent surety bonds from the defendant lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums they had paid."
Both Campbell and another man connected to the forgery, Steve Stokeling, operated publicly as individual sureties. Stokeling holds a Florida insurance license and is based in Warner Robins, Ga.
Campbell and his associates embossed the bonds using a counterfeit seal and forged the signatures of Chubb group officials, according to the U.S. attorney's statement. They made the bonds appear to be from Chubb subsidiaries Pacific Indemnity Co. and Federal Insurance Co.
Some of the contractors that lost premiums in the scam made contact with Campbell or Stokeling via licensed insurance brokers or middlemen in different states who collected or sought commissions for their referrals.
Chubb had sued Campbell and Stokeling in 2013 in federal court in Pensacola, Fla., and obtained a judgement against them.
"We take the integrity of surety bonds very seriously, and we made significant efforts both to investigate this matter and assist law enforcement in making sure that the people responsible for this fraud were held accountable," says Rick Ciullo, chief operating officer for Chubb Surety, in a statement.