A city man accused of insurance fraud in Washington State was arraigned Thursday afternoon in state Superior Court in Norwalk.
Kevin W. Kolenda has been charged in Washington State with five counts of Engaging in an Unauthorized Insurance Transaction. He was charged following a lengthy investigation by that state's Office of Insurance Commissioner. The charges are Class B felonies.
Kolenda, 55, was captured by Norwalk Police Wednesday morning and held as a fugitive from justice. He failed to appeared for arraignment in King County Superior Cout in Seattle on Sept. 5, resulting in a judge issuing a warrant for his arrest.
Kolenda's company, which has operated as Golf Marketing Worldwide LLC and other names, sells insurance to promoters of golf tournaments where a cash prize is offered for a participant who sinks a hole in one. He faces charges in at least ten states for failing to pay prize money after golfers got a hole in one.
Police said Kolenda fled from them when they attempted to take him into custody Wednesday, and he ended up hiding in a lot a landscaping company uses to store its inventory of shrubbery and trees.
Police spokesman Lt. Praveen John said officers surrounded the lot and requested a K-9 officer come to the scene. When the officer arrived with his dog, police shouted to Kolenda that if he didn't surrender the dog would be sent in to get him. John said Kolenda walked out with his hands up.
Police charged him with interfering with an officer.
During his arraignment, Judge William J. Wenzel lowered Kolenda's bond to $90,000 from the $500,000 bond set by Norwalk Police. Wenzel also set a bond of $2,500 on the interfering charge.
Kolenda's lawyer, Andrew B. Bowman of Westport, told the judge his client was uncertain if he could post that amount of bond.
Bowman said Washington State has 30 days to obtain a governor's warrant to extradict Kolenda. He said Kolenda was not waiving his right to challenge being extradicted to Washington. The case was continued to Oct. 25.
The investigation of Kolenda by Washington State's insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, dates back to 2003, when Kolenda's company allegedly sold a "hole-in-one" policy for a tournament in Bremerton, WA. In a news release issued Aug. 23 of this year, Kreidler said a golfer sunk a hole in one, but Kolenda wouldn't pay a prize of $10,000.
The news release said Kolenda sold a hole-in-one insurance policy in 2004 for a tournament in Vancouver, WA, for a prize of $50,000. A participant sunk a hole-in-one, but Kolenda refused to pay the prize, Kreidler said.
And in 2010, the release said, Kolenda sold coverage for a $25,000 prize for a tournament in Snohomish, WA, where a player got a hole in one.
Kolenda is accused of violating the mandates of a Cease and Desist Order issued by the insurance commissioner Feb. 6, 2004, to stop selling insurance without a license.
In a "Final Findings of Facts, Conclusion of Law, and Order On Hearing," issued in July, 2008, the office of the insurance commissioner ordered Kolenda to pay a fine of $25,000 for illegally sellilng insurance for a golf tournament in May 24, 2004.
The findings also ordered Kolenda to pay a fine of $100,000 for illegally selling insurance to golf tournaments twice in July 2006 and twice in August 2006.
In Connecticut in 2004, Kolenda was found guilty of first-degree larceny. He was sentenced to two years in jail, which was suspended, followed by three years probation. In 2009 in this state, he was found guilty of criminal attempt to committ third-degree larceny. He was sentenced to two years in jail, which was suspended, following by three years probation.
Kolenda resides at 33 North Water St. John said he operates his business from an office on Elizabeth Street.