Former Insurance Agent Steve Standridge Facing FBI Investigation

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jul. 5, 2010 12:00 am  

The FBI is investigating the business activities of Steve Standridge, according to the Arkansas Insurance Department, which has accused the Mount Ida insurance agent of fraud involving $10 million worth of premium finance loans.

The interest of federal law enforcement agents is the latest revelation in the sudden downfall of a businessman who was the Professional Insurance Agents' National Professional Agent of the Year just four years ago.

Standridge ran one of the largest insurance agencies in Arkansas with 20 offices and 178 employees as of January 2009. He also owned Gibraltar National Insurance Co. of Little Rock, a small workers' compensation insurance carrier.

Since the beginning of 2010, however, Standridge and his businesses have faced a number of difficulties and transitions:

• The AID issued an emergency order suspending his license, alleging he misrepresented $4 million worth of collateral for Gibraltar, which Standridge bought from businessman Ed Harvey in January 2009. The company, taken into receivership, is in the processes of being liquidated as Triangle Insurance Co. of Enid, Okla., operates it.

• The AID had scheduled a hearing for Thursday to decide whether Standridge's producer license should be permanently revoked. He was facing 72 counts of wrongdoing, including "demonstrating incompetence, but more likely used dishonest practices and demonstrated untrustworthiness and financial irresponsibility," according to petition for the hearing that the AID staff filed in June. Late last week, Standridge signed a consent revocation order, which permanently revoked his insurance license, ending the need for the hearing.

• Standridge, 53, agreed to "retire immediately" in March from the insurance industry, leaving Steve Standridge Insurance Inc., which he founded in 1982, in the hands of his two children, Alisha Pollock, 30, who is president, and Jared Standridge, 28, vice president.

• The AID placed Standridge Insurance under regulatory supervision in March.

• Two Standridge Insurance agencies offices have been sold. And more office sales could be coming.

Standridge didn't return calls left on his cell phone last week. His attorneys, Sam Perroni of Little Rock and Tim Dudley of Little Rock, also couldn't be reached for comment.

Standridge's son, Jared Standridge, said, "The issues that my dad is going through right now are personal issues. And his personal issues are not going to affect the agency.

"This has been a challenge, but we're going forward," he said. The agency is "going to continue to service our customers like we have in the past."

Amanda Rose, the AID's associate counsel for the legal division, said last week that the investigation into Steve Standridge was continuing.



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