Insurer accused of theft

The owner of a Delta insurance agency has been arrested on suspicion of stealing more than $25,000 from customers by canceling their policies and keeping their premium payments.

Joshua Lee Amelang, 34, of Grand Junction was arrested Thursday and could be charged with multiple felony counts of theft and committing crimes against at-risk adults. He is being held in the Delta County Jail on $100,000 bond.

A total of 11 clients of Escalante Insurance contacted Delta police between Feb. 11 and Wednesday and reported they had written checks to the insurance agency but later learned their policies had been canceled, according to an arrest affidavit.

Several clients told police they contacted Amelang on numerous occasions, and he told them he was working to straighten out their policies.

One man said he turned in a $33,000 claim to Amelang, and Amelang assured him he was working on the claim and his money was coming, the affidavit said.

A detective wrote in the affidavit that he learned any check endorsed “For Deposit Only Escalante Insurance” never made it to the underwriter, and the policy was canceled.

Police said they expect more victims to come forward as their policies expire and they attempt to renew them.

The detective wrote in the affidavit that Amelang transferred phone numbers he had in Delta to his phone in Grand Junction and still was selling insurance.

He also learned from numerous clients that Amelang travels out of the country constantly and was never at the Delta office when it was open.

“This is a concern for me that Joshua will flee the country since he has the capability to travel so easily,” the detective wrote in the affidavit.

Delta police declined to release a photo of Amelang on Friday, citing an ongoing investigation.


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