La Vernia insurance agent investigated

Texas Department of Insurance investigating Patsy Ritchey for fraud, theft of money

An insurance agent in La Vernia is under investigation by the state and two county district attorneys for alleged insurance fraud.

The agent, identified by officials involved in the investigation as Patsy Ritchey, is also under investigation regarding nearly $30,000 in missing funds from the Greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce.

Like many business leaders in the small town, Elaine Stephens was shocked to learn Ritchey was under investigation for insurance fraud by the Texas Department of Insurance.

The allegations really hit home Sunday when Stephens was notified by one of Ritchey's relatives that she may have also taken money from the Greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce where Ritchey served as the treasurer.

Stephens is the chamber's vice president and she said she went to the bank first thing Monday morning.

"We showed up at that bank to assess the damages and certainly there are some," Stephens said. "About $27,000 worth in our operating fund."

Stephens alerted police Chief Bruce Ritchey (who is not related to Patsy Ritchey) who quickly learned the state was already investigating Patsy Ritchey for insurance fraud.

In fact, her insurance office was shut down on Friday.

"The TDI -- the Texas Department of Insurance -- is already involved in investigating some possible monies taken from this persons insurance company," Bruce Ritchey said.

Ritchey has turned over his investigation to the state, meanwhile Stephens and the 130 members of the chamber still don't know how much money is missing because they can't access some of the accounts.

Stephens said the money was set aside to build a new building for the chamber and for operating expenses. Despite the setback, Stephens said the members are sticking together.

"The mistakes of one person does not affect the excitement that our community has for what's going on," Stephens said. "Our business leaders are strong and they have all indicated that they are interested in moving forward and making good decisions for our Greater La Vernia Chamber of commerce."

In addition to the state investigation, KSAT has learned Wilson County and Bexar County are also investigating Ritchey for insurance fraud.

A prosecutor in the Bexar County DA's office tells us there are several potential victims in both counties.

Any former clients of Ritchey's insurance business are being told to call Farmer's Insurance's district office at 210-338-6884 for more information about their policies.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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