SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A Santa Barbara insurance agent was taken into custody Tuesday after investigators say he stole tens of thousands of dollars from clients and left one client uncovered during the Montecito mudslide.
The California Department of Insurance says Mark Lynch, 40, was arrested on suspicion of 13 felony counts of grand theft, embezzlement, and money laundering.
The department says he collected more than $70,000 in insurance premium payments from five clients, but left them uninsured. That included one client who was uncovered during the January 9, 2018 mudslide in Montecito. The client didn't suffer any damage during the deadly mudslide.
"Leaving homeowners without insurance during the Montecito Mudslide could have been devastating for these families and businesses," said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. "The arrest of this agent should be a warning to anyone who puts consumers at risk to seek personal benefit. The Department of Insurance will continue to use every resource available to stop unscrupulous agents from preying on customers."
Department of Insurance investigators say Lynch was pocketing the insurance payments. Three of his clients were Santa Barbara homeowners, and two were small business owners. Investigators say the payments were taken between January 2016 and January 2017.
The department launched an investigation after receiving complaints from Lynch's clients.
The Department of Insurance is seeking to revoke Lynch's insurance license.
He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail Tuesday and is being held on $100,000 bail.