The California Department of Insurance filed a complaint against a local resident and title insurance agent with First American Title Insurance Company for allegedly inducing business professionals in return for business.
Eugene “Gene” Bleecker, a 35-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley who is known amongst real estate businesses from the San Fernando to the Antelope valleys, is being accused of “(paying), directly or indirectly, a commission, compensation or other consideration to any person as an inducement for the placement or referral of title business in violation of California Insurance Code,” read a section of the complaint.
Bleecker referred The Signal to his attorney when reached for comment Friday, who claimed the evidence provided shows the DOI’s argument is simply “theoretical.”
“Such actions constitute grounds for the insurance commissioner” to restrict, suspect or revoke Bleecker’s certificate of registration as a title marketing representative and First American’s license “on a statewide basis or in specified counties and recover a penalty of five times the amount of any commission or unlawful rebate paid,” the complaint argues, which was filed by CDI attorney Eugene Kalinsky on Dec. 30.
All allegations are denied, said Lucas Rowe, an attorney with the local firm Donahoe & Young LLP, which is representing Bleecker.
“We deny the allegations in the accusation and believe that Mr. Bleecker didn’t do anything unlawful or improper. There is no evidence that he gained clients or paid for anything. This is a theoretical argument,” he said, adding that Kalinsky told Rowe “this is the first time the department is interpreting the rules in this way.”
When reached for comment, CDI said “we are moving through the administrative action process so can’t comment beyond what is in the accusation,” said Madison Voss, deputy press secretary, via email.
Since 2009, Bleecker has been certified as a title marketing representative to market, offer, solicit, negotiate or sell title insurance, and has worked with First American over the past eight years.
About 30 years ago, he helped start a real estate networking group called the Advisory Group Real Estate Network to offer real estate professionals services such as coaching, video marketing of listings on social media and tour buses with up to 50 agents to preview and promote listings.
The 19-page complaint alleges that Bleecker ultimately faced no competition and earned several benefits as the only title representative for the Advisory Group, including gaining contacts and payments.
One example listed in the accusation read that First American paid $1,250 to Innovative Imagery — a multi-media marketing business founded by Bleecker and his wife — for a total of $22,500 paid between November 2017 and March 2019.
“Bleecker could not definitely explain to (CDI) why First American was making these payments. Bleecker also paid Innovative Imagery $1,250 per month in the same time period,” said the accusation.
The case is currently in the discovery phase as CDI has asked Bleecker for additional documentation, according to Rowe, adding that “we requested the investigated file and once all of that is done, an administrative hearing will be held.”
Voss confirmed CDI Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara had not yet judged the case as of Friday.