"It hurts, it hurts,” Michael Marion said. “Sometimes I just want to close my eyes when I go by. That way maybe it's not there, but it's there and every day we go by it, my boys see it every day, their bus goes by it every day."
BALTIMORE - ABC2 News Investigators first told you about the missing money trail involving companies owned by well-known Baltimore insurance pitchman Hal Katz. And now we're learning more about his troubles and getting reaction from a Katz business partner who's now feeling the pain.
Following our ABC2 News investigation, we were contacted by Gordy Bunch, who according to Maryland state records, owns half the stock in Interstate Auto Insurance Company, Inc., one of Hal Katz's three companies. In a phone interview, Bunch indicates he paid $1-million dollars in June for the stake in Interstate, saying he had no idea the provider was unstable. Bunch tells ABC2 he is "horribly disappointed" and calling Katz, "the Maryland Madoff".
Katz, known for his outrageous commercials, is at the center of an investigation by the Maryland Insurance Administration. His license was suspended in August after the agency found he had engaged in fraudulent or dishonest practices in the insurance business.
State records indicate Katz owns not only the Katz Insurance Agency, but is also the 50-percent owner of Interstate, the insurance provider. Bunch, a 40-year-old Coast Guard veteran, says he had no idea the company was insolvent when his company, the Woodlands Financial Group made the purchase. TWFG, according to Bunch, is a national company with more than $200 million in premium sales. Bunch claims the financials he saw for Interstate were a fraud.
The Maryland Insurance Administration found fraud too, discovering nearly $800,000 that should have gone between the Katz Insurance Agency and Interstate, was never moved. Bunch believes the total of missing money is actually even higher. He tells ABC2 the company hasn't been paid any premiums from the Katz Insurance Agency for 2012 and believes Interstate is owed more than $1.9 million based on his calculations.
ABC2 made calls to every Katz location today and foundat least two of the eight offices are still open. As required by a state order, the shuttered locations post notices on their doors providing policy holders with phone numbers to contact. The operational locations are running as part of a state receivership agreement developed earlier this month.
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An investigation has revealed serious safety concerns about one of the most popular children's toys on the market that is still being sold in stores despite consumer calls for a recall.