Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Public safety

Five Pinellas residents arrested in scheme to defraud case

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Five north Pinellas County residents accused of running a workers' compensation scheme that cost victims more than $130,000 were arrested last week, the state Department of Financial Services has announced. Those arrested are Otto Biltres, 41, Charles Brown, 38, and Kelly Bree Brown, 34, all of Tarpon Springs; Johnny Alton Lewis, 51, of Clearwater; and Joseph T. Jordan, 50, of Palm Harbor.

Biltres, owner of a temporary staffing agency called Preferred Staffing of America, "misled customers into believing" that his company could provide workers' compensation insurance, officials said. He charged client companies more than $130,000 for compensation insurance and other services, they said.

Biltres is also accused of partnering with Brown, a licensed insurance agent, who referred companies to the agency. Brown is also accused of falsifying insurance certificates for Biltres, who gave him a 45 percent commission for his work, officials said.

Three others, including Brown's wife, Kelly, as well as Jordan and Lewis, are accused of sending client companies to Preferred Staffing of America for commissions.

They face charges that include scheme to defraud, selling insurance without a license, and workers' compensation fraud, jail records show. If convicted, each faces up to 30 years in prison, officials said.

They were all booked into the Pinellas County jail, but were each released July 26 on $30,000 to $100,000 bail.

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