Insurance agent's license revoked; charged with identify theft

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has revoked the license of a Federal Way insurance agent who forged documents and stole tens of thousands of dollars from a client.

Cecelia Villanueva, who's been selling insurance in Washington since 1994, has also been charged by the King County Prosecutor's Office with two counts of identity theft. Her arraignment is pending. (She's listed in the court filing as Cecilia Cabasco Sawyer.)

In 2002, Villaneuva, sold an annuity that was ultimately worth more than $148,000 to an elderly woman and the woman's neice. She wrongly listed the neice's ex-husband as the primary beneficiary.

The elderly woman passed away in 2005. According to investigators, Villaneuva got a copy of the woman's death certificate, and forging the ex-husband's signature, she filed a claim with the insurer for the annuity proceeds. She steered the money into a bank account that she'd opened in the ex-husband's name, and repeatedly forged his name on checks.

The bank records show that she spent tens of thousands of dollars on groceries, cell phone service, at a drugstore. One of the largest checks, for $6,000, was simply made out to herself.

Eventually, the neice asked about the annuity. Villanueva claimed that due to the poor economy, the value of the annuity had dwindled to just $83,000.

The insurance company that Villaneuva worked for says it is working with the family to repay the stolen money.

Villanueva's insurance license was revoked under the state's insurance laws barring agents from improperly witholding or misappropriating clients' money, demonstrating untrustworthiness, and for forging signatures.

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