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St. Charles County Business Owners Indicted for Fraud, Stealing

The indictment named several witnesses, including some living in O'Fallon.

Darain and Cory Atkinson, owners of the now-defunct US Fidelis, were arraigned Wednesday on charges of stealing, insurance fraud and unlawful merchandising practices in  Circuit Court.

US Fidelis was headquartered in , in what used to be Belz Factory Outlet Mall.

The grand jury handed down the indictment Friday afternoon, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said at a press conference. 

Bond was set at $250,000, with 10-percent surety. Koster had asked for $250,000, cash only. Both Atkinson brothers were also required to relinquish their passports.

Darain Atkinson, 46, faces 14 charges. If convicted on the highest count of the indictment, Koster said, he faces life in prison.

Cory Atkinson, 41, faces 13 charges. He could spend up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

Both men are being charged as prior offenders—Darain as a result of 1986 convictions of theft, forgery and burglary in Kansas and a 1987 conviction of manufacturing counterfeit Federal Reserve notes, and Cory as a result of a 1997 felony criminal trespass conviction from Colorado.

According to the indictments, the Atkinsons and their company sold vehicle repair coverage under both vehicle extended service contracts and contracts associated with various vehicle products.

The indictments allege that the Atkinsons:

  • Kept refunds that were due consumers
  • Charged fees in excess of the amount stated in the contract
  • Told consumers they would get a pro rata refund if they canceled the contract, while intending to keep a portion of the refund

The indictments further allege that the Atkinsons misled consumers into believing:

  • The company was affiliated with auto manufacturers and dealers
  • The consumers' warranties had expired or were about to expire
  • The consumer had the opportunity to extend or reinstate the manufacturers warranty

Darain Atkinson is charged with the following crimes:

  • One count of Stealing without Consent, a Class B felony
  • One count of Stealing by Deceit, a Class B felony
  • Seven counts of unlawful merchandising practices, a Class D felony
  • Four counts of Insurance Fraud
  • One count of unauthorized insurance business. 

Cory Atkinson is charged with the following crimes:

  • One count of Stealing without Consent, a Class B felony
  • One count of Stealing by Deceit, a Class B felony
  • Six counts of unlawful merchandising practices, a Class D felony
  • Four counts of Insurance Fraud
  • One count of unauthorized insurance business

The Class B felonies carry a possible sentence of five to 30 years in the Department of Corrections. The D felonies each carry a 1-to-7-year prison term and the fraud counts carry possible 1-to-5-year prison terms.

The indictment named several witnesses, including some living in O'Fallon.

Koster said during a press conference Wednesday that the severity of the crimes moved this from a civil matter to the criminal courts.

"There were a several number of years where claims about US Fidelis were the No. 1 complaint to our office and in other states," Koster said. 

Koster noted that there was a pattern of collusion in US Fidelis over several years.

"The people they were taking advantage of had an economic need," Koster said.

He added that other states also were investigating criminal charges against the Atkinson brothers. Missouri broke away from the multi-state action about two years ago. 

US Fidelis

The extended vehicle warranty company opened in 2003 and stopped selling warranties in December 2009.

class action suit was filed against the company in 2009.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2010. In April,  to recoup funds owed to contract holders.

 

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