Taking license

An insurance broker who passed on $187,000 in illegal commission payments to a volunteer aide of Gov. Craig Benson agreed Wednesday to a one-year suspension of his license.

Dennis French, president of NiBri Benefit Services of Candia, said he gave payments to Linda Pepin to negotiate health and dental insurance contracts for existing and retired state workers even though Pepin wasn’t licensed to do the work.

The payments were made in hopes that Pepin’s private company, AlphaDirections Inc. of Portsmouth, would steer work to French’s company, French had told investigators.

A state insurance hearing officer fined Pepin $42,500 for accepting the payments. Pepin is appealing that ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The suspension of French’s license was over state charges that, during hearings last April into Pepin’s conduct, French lied under oath about whether he had spoken to former Benson Personnel Director Joseph D’Alessandro about the arrangement before it began in March 2003.

French denied he was untruthful but had failed to recall incidents and statements he had written that were a year old until state investigators showed them to him.

For the purposes of resolving the mater, French agreed to the one-year suspension of his license, and the state dismissed all remaining charges against him.

Meanwhile, Insurance Department lawyer Leslie Ludtke warned French in a letter not to try to do business under his wife’s license.

“The Department recently received a call from a business inquiring as to the status of Dennis French’s license. Apparently, Dennis French represented to this business that he could continue to provide brokerage services under his wife’s license,” Ludtke wrote. “The Department will not tolerate this conduct.”

If French persists, the agency will move for permanent revocation of his license, Ludtke said.

The suspension does not affect French’s company, which remains the state’s insurance broker of record for Delta Dental and Cigna Healthcare.

The attorney general’s office has sued Pepin to try to recover all the $187,000 in fees that were paid to her.

Pepin served as Benson’s human resources director when Benson was chief executive officer of the now-defunct Cabletron Systems Corp. of Rochester. D’Alessandro had worked under Pepin at Cabletron.

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