The president and CEO of the insurance group that began working as a broker for the city of Hartford in 2012 has been arrested on federal charges and pleaded not guilty to one count of wire fraud in court Friday.
Earl O’Garro, Jr., founder of Hybrid Insurance Group, which began working as an insurance broker for the city of Hartford in February 2012, was arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon on one count of wire fraud.
Prosecutors said in the indictment that O'Garro "devised and intended to devise and participated in a scheme and artifice to defraud the State of Connecticut, various clients and others, and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises."
According to the indictment, O'Garro "provided false and misleading information" about the financial status of Hybrid Insurance when applying for state loans and grants totaling $126,320 in January 2012.
Prosecutors said O'Garro lied about the value of Hybrid Insurance Group's cash assets to increase the chances that the application would be approved – and it was. Hybrid Insurance received the money in March 2012.
According to the indictment, O'Garro posed as an insurance company officer and underwriter in July 2013 to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in premium payments into his own bank account.
The alleged scheme prompted the city of Hartford to transfer $868,244 to Hybrid Insurance on July 18, 2013, the indictment says.
O'Garro, who is being represented by a public defender, pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday. He was released after posting $500,000 bond and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the court.
It's not the first time O'Garro has run into legal trouble.
State police arrested him on Jan. 13 of this year and charged him with five counts of failure to pay wages. He turned himself in at the Troop H barracks in Hartford and was released after posting $1,500 bond.
The state Insurance Department has filed an 11-count complaint against O’Garro, who authorities say also defaulted on more than $350,000 in state loans. Hybrid Insurance Group was evicted from its Hartford office last November.
O’Garro told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters last year that he knows where the money is and will be able to show authorities if asked.
This summer, the city of Hartford was subpoenaed for all records pertaining to dealings with O’Garro and Hybrid Insurance.
O’Garro was also arrested last November on charges pertaining to alleged domestic disputes. He could not be reached for comment at the time of that arrest.
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office said the federal investigation into O'Garro is ongoing.