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News Release

For Immediate Release
June 24, 2009

Attorney Catherine Tucker
(603) 271-7987

Insurance Commissioner and Attorney General Announce Conviction for Insurance Fraud

Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte and Insurance Commissioner Roger A. Sevigny today announced the conviction of Michelle Cote for Insurance Fraud arising from a claim for missing jewelry.

Cote, age 35, of Manchester, New Hampshire, pled guilty in the Hillsborough County Superior Court North to one class A Felony count of Insurance Fraud. She was sentenced to 6 months in the House of Corrections, suspended for 3 years. Cote was also ordered to pay a $2500 fine and to write apology letters to her insurance agent, the insurance company, and a local jewelry store.

The charges arose after Cote purchased an insurance policy from State Farm Fire and Casualty to insure her diamond ring for $6500. In August, 2007, Cote reported to State Farm that she had lost this diamond ring. Cote told State Farm that this ring was a replacement for one she had lost previously, but this was inconsistent with the paperwork she submitted to the insurance company. Furthermore, the local jewelry store where she claimed to have purchased the replacement ring had no record of such a transaction. Cote ultimately withdrew her insurance claim, saying she had found her ring. Cote subsequently admitted to an investigator from the Insurance Department's Fraud Investigation Unit that she never owned such a diamond ring.

"Insurance fraud is a crime, and we will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement partners to investigate insurance fraud," stressed Insurance Commissioner Sevigny. Attorney General Ayotte said, "The Attorney General's Office will continue to aggressively prosecute insurance fraud offenders in order to protect the honest citizens and businesses of this state."

The conviction is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General's Office and the Insurance Department Fraud Investigation Unit. The Fraud Investigation Unit was formed to investigate Insurance Fraud and other insurance-related criminal activity. Senior Insurance Fraud Investigator Brendhan B. Harris conducted the investigation on behalf of the Fraud Investigation Unit.

New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658