Today’s news:

Woman pleads guilty in boro insurance scam

A Woodside insurance agent pleaded guilty last week to selling hundreds of bogus insurance policies representing more than $50 million in coverage, the Queens district attorney said.

Operating from a Woodside storefront called “Blanca’s Auto Insurance — Best Deal in Town” at 64-17 Broadway, Bianca Duenas, was charged with defrauding more than 100 individuals and small businesses, DA Richard Brown said. The 48-year-old Duenas, who lives at 31 Main Parkway in Plainview, L.I., was accused of issuing false policies for liability insurance, workers’ compensation and auto insurance during the past 15 months, he said.

She pleaded guilty to second-degree forgery Friday in proceedings before Supreme Court Justice Joseph McKay, who indicated he would sentence Duenas to a term of two to six years in prison on Sept. 4.

“Swindling honest people out of their hard-earned money can be just as serious as a violent crime,” Brown said. “The defendant’s punishment has been swift and certain.”

A more extensive list of charges that could have brought a sentence of up to seven years in prison was reduced to the single charge in a plea agreement, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

Duenas was arrested earlier this month when police with a search warrant seized 28 boxes of records at her office.

“The defendant is accused of selling bogus insurance policies to trusting individuals and businesses who believed they had proper coverage when, in fact, they had no insurance coverage at all,” Brown said. “Even though she claimed to be the ‘Best Deal in Town,’ she was far from it.”

Running a cash-only operation, Duenas collected between $250,000 and $500,000 from her customers to issue forged policies with existing insurance companies, the DA said. State officials and the city police launched a joint investigation last year when customers discovered that the policies they had purchased did not actually exist.

John Burgher, the inspector general of the state Workers’ Compensation Board, described the case as one of the most extensive acts of workers’ compensation fraud uncovered by his office since it was opened in 1996. More than 100 bogus workers’ compensation policies issued by Duenas totaled over $46 million, Burgher said.

Duenas’s license to sell insurance had been revoked in 1991.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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