Former PIE Mutual Chief Pleads Guilty To Misusing Funds

By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - The former head of a failed medical malpractice company pleaded guilty Tuesday to insurance fraud and other charges and agreed to pay at least $6.8 million in restitution.

Larry Rogers, 63, of Hilton Head, S.C., will be sentenced Feb. 26. He remained free on bond.

For about 10 years, Rogers was president and chief executive of PIE Mutual Insurance Co., a medical malpractice insurer founded in 1975 and, at the time of its failure, the largest such insurer in Ohio.

In a plea agreement, Rogers also admitted conspiracy and filing a false federal income tax return for the tax year 1996.

The conspiracy charges allege Rogers authorized using PIE funds for illegal political contributions and then made false statements to the Federal Elections Commission and Ohio authorities.

The three charges carry a maximum sentence of 18 years in prison and fines of $600,000. However, under terms of the plea agreement, Rogers is facing between 37 months and 46 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moroney said Rogers has agreed to pay back $6.8 million relating to the fraud. The payment would go to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Moroney said it was still undetermined how much money Rogers owes in restitution for the conspiracy charge. Moroney estimated Rogers owes between $6 million and $7 million.

In Tuesday's hearing before U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver, Rogers spoke only to confirm he understood the charges. Rogers and other PIE executives were fired when the Ohio Department of Insurance took management and financial control of the company on Dec. 15, 1997.

On March 23, 1998, Franklin County Common Pleas Court ordered PIE liquidated. The company insured nearly one-third of Ohio's doctors when it failed.

Last October, the former law and accounting firms for PIE agreed to pay the state $19 million for their roles in the company's failure.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)