Attorney, Wife Sentenced in Fraud Scheme

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Agoura Hills attorney convicted of stealing more than $340,000 from an insurance company that helped put him through law school was sentenced in federal court Monday to a year in prison and ordered to repay the unrecovered portion of the money.

Federal prosecutors said Steven Segall, 36, and his wife, Andrea Segall, defrauded CIGNA Insurance Co. for more than 3 1/2 years by using phony billings for paralegal work that was never done.

Steven Segall, who pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud in August, could have been fined $250,000 and sentenced to five years in prison on each count, said Gary Austin, a U. S. postal inspector.

U. S. District Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr., also sentenced Segall to serve five years probation after his release.

Andrea Segall, 31, pleaded guilty in August to one count of mail fraud. She was sentenced by Byrne to five years probation and ordered to perform 350 hours of community service.

The Segalls, who have two children, are both responsible for repaying $254,000 to CIGNA. The company has already recovered $86,000, which federal investigators found in the couple's various bank accounts, Austin said.

Until he was fired in August, 1988, Steven Segall worked for 10 years for Childers and Dickinson, a Universal City law firm under contract to CIGNA, Austin said. The insurance company helped pay Segall's way through law school at Cal State Northridge, he said.

The Segalls set up a phony company, called Legal Research, to bill the insurance firm for paralegal work and received payments from CIGNA at the address of Andrea Segall's mother, Agnes Dora Spiegel, 70, of Encino.

Investigators traced $9,000 to Spiegel, but they could not determine whether she was part of the scheme, which was uncovered in a routine company audit, Austin said. Spiegel was not charged.

Austin said the Segalls used the stolen money to buy bigger and better homes. When the scheme started in 1985, the couple lived in a $167,000 house in Northridge, he said.

Three years and two houses later, they were living in an Agoura Hills home they purchased for $507,000. The Segalls sold that home in January for $830,000, Austin said.

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