LAKE STEVENS — A man who for years ran an insurance agency here is facing a felony theft charge after he allegedly collected more than $230,000 in state benefits based on claims he was too disabled to work.
James C. Kooy, 53, had since 2008 been filing paperwork with the state Department of Labor &Industries indicating he had various physical problems that made it impossible for him to hold down a full-time job, according to documents the state attorney general’s office filed last month in Snohomish County Superior Court.
An L&I investigation determined that Kooy for much of that time was operating By The Lake Insurance, Inc. The company opened in 2010 and reported doing more than $800,000 in business through 2015, state officials say.
The investigation reportedly found that Kooy was licensed to sell insurance in Washington and also received licenses or other legal permission to engage in similar work in Idaho, Arizona and Utah. Search warrants served in the case turned up evidence that Kooy sold hundreds of insurance policies, attended conferences and received thousands of work-related emails.
Kooy is now charged with first-degree theft, and state attorneys have filed paperwork alleging he engaged in a major economic offense. That’s an aggravating factor that could expose Kooy to additional time behind bars if convicted.
Kooy pleaded not guilty during a court appearance last week. He was released without bail. Trial is scheduled for Sept. 29.
The state maintains that over the years, Kooy on dozens of occasions filed paperwork that did not accurately represent his employment status.
The first claim came after Kooy reportedly twisted his left knee while working as a heavy equipment operator for a Mill Creek trucking and excavating company. More claims were filed about injuries to his shoulders.
He provided the state with notes from a doctor who reportedly determined the man was unable to work.
Kooy in 2010 filed paperwork indicating that he’d opened the insurance company in an effort to become self employed. He allegedly told the state that the plan hadn’t worked out, and that he was selling the business.
The state opened its investigation in early 2015. One of the first steps was an online search that documented Kooy was still involved in the insurance company, court papers said. Interviews were conducted with business associates. A paper trail was assembled.
Kooy’s doctor also was approached. He’d been filling out paperwork restricting Kooy from performing any work for much of five years.
The doctor “stated that he was not aware of Kooy’s insurance agency activities,” the charging papers say. When told, he reportedly cleared Kooy to work full-time in the insurance business.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.