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Sirens & Gavels

Tue., June 12, 2012, 5:39 p.m.

Insurance agent gets 2 years for fraud

A former insurance agent and executive director of the Spokane Food Bank has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud.

James K. Sokolis, 56, is to be on probation for three years after his release and pay about $356,000 restitution, which is the amount he admitted to stealing from a Coeur d'Alene insurance company.

Sokolis previously owned and operated Rockwood Insurance in Coeur d'Alene.
He sold his share of the business in August 2010 and was hired to work for the new company. He was fired after admitting to misusing client money.

Sokolis "had been juggling his clients’ funds for months, hoping to come up with enough money at the right time to bring all policies current," according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by his lawyer, Chris Bugbee.

He pleaded guilty in March to three counts of insurance fraud and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Coeur d'Alene.

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, commended the sentence in a prepared statement.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who are entrusted with other people’s money have an obligation to act honestly and for the benefit of their clients,” she said.

Bugbee described Sokolis as a "very well-respected" professional who has devoted much of his life to community service.

In addition to leading the food bank, Sokolis coached and served on the board for Spokane Youth Sports for about 20 years. He also served two years on the board for the Seattle YMCA and spent six years as the youth director of his church, according to the sentencing memorandum.

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