Former Colusa County supervisor sentenced for scam
Special to The Union
Former Colusa County Supervisor James Sidney Kalfsbeek has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in connection with a fraudulent, multimillion dollar auto insurance scheme.
Kalfsbeek, 72, of Arbuckle, was convicted in June in U.S. District Court in Sacramento of conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced Tuesday.
Kalfsbeek was founder, president and chairman of the board of Puget Sound Agricultural Society Ltd., or PSASL, which claimed not to be an insurance company but “nevertheless sold a product that for all intents and purposes was automobile insurance,” said Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Steven Lapham and Russell L. Carlberg in a joint statement.
Kalfsbeek and fellow defendant Donna Jean Rowe, 59, of Lodi, are self-avowed “sovereign citizens” who claim U.S. and state governments have no authority over “organic, Christian people,” the attorneys said.
“Also, contrary to state law, they did not pay for pain and suffering associated with car accidents because they considered pain and suffering part of ‘God’s plan,'” they said.
Rowe was sentenced Tuesday to four years.
Kalfsbeek served on the Board of Supervisors from 1987 through 1990. Retired Supervisor David G. Womble, who served with him, said Kalfsbeek held the same anti-government views then but nevertheless was a good supervisor – always pleasant, helpful and courteous.
“I really don’t think he’s a hardened criminal,” Womble said. “I wish him well. I’m sorry he got involved in it.”
PSASL operated in the U.S. and Canada.
In a Michigan case, a man was killed and a woman severely disabled in an accident where a PSASL member was driving, resulting in a $20 million lawsuit against PSASL.
“The defendants ‘paid’ the grieving families the $20 million judgment, plus $5 million in interest, with a bogus financial document called a ‘bill of exchange.’ That document fraudulently purported to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to pay $25 million to the families,” the attorneys said.
In a South Carolina case, a homeless bicycle rider was struck and severely injured by a PSASL member. PSASL paid the man about $6,000 but only after being sued for $25,000.
“PSASL’s meager payment was not even enough to cover the medical bills much less pain and suffering and future rehabilitative care,” the attorneys said.
From 1994 to 2002, PSASL collected millions in fees and paid smaller claims, but ignored large claims. Some PSASL members were sued and had to pay damages out of their own pockets, then had their driver licenses suspended because they did not have real insurance.
PSASL sold lifetime memberships for $500 and $250 per vehicle and agreed to pay claims.
But the company “paid those claims by assessing its members after the fact for the money needed to pay claims,” the attorneys said.
California and other states issued cease and desist orders against PSASL. Two Canadian provinces also took regulatory action.
Contact Marysville Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young at 749-4710, or at email@example.com.
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