By Mike Baker Associated Press
SEATTLE — A businessman accused of failing to pay golfers for their hole-in-one prizes has pleaded guilty in Washington state to three felonies.
Kevin Kolenda, 55, of Norwalk, Conn., pleaded guilty Friday two counts of selling insurance without a license and one count of first-degree theft. He will be sentenced in the coming months, with each count having a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Kolenda has a long history of selling illegal insurance and refusing to pay prize winners.
“Let this be a lesson to others intending to commit insurance fraud,” Kreidler said a statement. “We will come after you and justice will be served.”
Charging documents had accused him of failing to pay prize money when several Seattle-area golfers connected on aces. Special golf events often include prizes on certain holes for players who get a hole-in-one, and some seek insurance to cover the costs.
In Friday’s court documents, Kolenda pleaded guilty to just one case of failing to pay prize money, saying that in 2010 he wrongfully controlled $25,000 that was due to a prize winner.
Kreidler’s office said similar allegations have been made against Kolenda or his business in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. Kolenda’s attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment Saturday.
The insurance commissioner’s office said in some cases in which prizes were not paid, charities had to come up with the funds on their own after Kolenda refused to pay. In other cases, some prize winners agreed not to get their winnings, according to the insurance commissioner’s office.
Kolenda started a business called Golf Marketing in 1995, according to state officials. That business has changed names over the years, including Golf Marketing Worldwide and Hole-in-Won.com Worldwide.