SEATTLE — A businessman who specializes in insuring golf tournament hole-in-one prizes has been charged in Washington state with refusing to pay up when several golfers landed the elusive aces.
Kevin Kolenda, of Norwalk, Conn., was charged this week in King County Superior Court with five felony counts of selling insurance without a license, The Seattle Times reported Friday. He is set to be arraigned Sept. 5.
Charging documents accuse Kolenda, 54, of failing to pass out prize money when several Seattle-area golfers connected on a one-shot wonder. In some cases, charities or organizations that hosted the tournaments have had to come up with the prize money, while prize winners agreed to forgo a prize in other cases, according to Washington’s Office of Insurance Commissioner, which conducted the investigation into Kolenda.
The documents also say he ignored an order to cease and desist and a $125,000 fine issued by the insurance commissioner in 2004.
“We’ve been warning the public about Mr. Kolenda’s scam for years,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “He has a long history of selling illegal insurance, refusing to pay prize winners, and thumbing his nose at regulators.”
Attempts by the newspaper and The Associated Press to reach Kolenda for comment were unsuccessful.
Charging documents show Kolenda started a business in 1995 called Golf Marketing in Norwalk. The business’ name has changed several times throughout the years.
His company would typically charge an insurance premium that ranged from between several hundred dollars to more than a $1,000, depending on the prize, according to charging documents.
“The way it works, (a golf organization) will designate a certain specific hole and offer a prize if someone gets a hole-in-one,” Rich Roesler, a spokesman for the insurance commissioner. It doesn’t happen very often, “but every once in a while someone gets one, and Kolenda wouldn’t pay,” Roesler told the Times.
According to charging documents, Kolenda in 2003 illegally sold insurance for a tournament in Bremerton, but refused to immediately pay when a golfer got a hole-in-one and tried to claim the $10,000 prize.
The documents allege he also refused to make good on a $50,000 prize won during a 2004 tournament in Vancouver, Wash., the Times reported.
In 2010, Kolenda sold coverage for a $25,000 hole-in-one prize at a golf tournament in Snohomish and again declined to pay despite numerous notarized forms attesting to the hole-in-one, according to the documents.
He was charged with similar crimes in Montana last month, the Times reported.