Galveston Attorney Charged With Representing Clients He’d Never Met
By: John Council
A Galveston attorney has been indicted on charges of insurance fraud, barratry and money laundering in connection with allegations that he improperly submitted roof hail damage claims to insurance companies on behalf of clients he’d never met.
Christopher Bertini was indicted by a Tarrant County grand jury recently on those four felony counts after he was investigated by the Texas Department of Insurance.
Bertini allegedly filed lawsuits against insurance companies over roof damage claims on behalf of clients he’d never seen, instead using third parties to solicit business for the scheme.
“All four counts stem from similar transactions in which he would obtain clients without meeting them which is barratry—you can’t do that,’’ said John Newbern, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney who presented the case against Bertini to the grand jury.
The Tarrant County DA’s Office is one of five DA offices in Texas where TDI has prosecutors and investigators on staff who pursue insurance fraud cases.
If convicted Bertini faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Bertini surrendered to authorities in Tarrant County last week and was released on $5,000 bond.
Bertini did not return a call for comment.
In June 2018, former south Texas attorney Richard Kent Livesay was sentenced to five years behind bars after pleading guilty to insurance fraud and barratry in a similar scheme, in which he filed numerous hail damage lawsuits against insurers on behalf of homeowners who never hired him.
As part of a plea bargain with Tarrant County prosecutors, Livesay agreed to surrender his law license, pay restitution to victims and testify against other co-defendants in exchange for prosecutors dropping 14 other insurance-related fraud charges pending against him.