Insurance Agent Wanted By Police

An arrest warrant has been issued for a former Bay St. Louis Insurance agent accused of bilking his clients out of thousands of dollars.

Bay St. Louis Police investigators say Joe Merengo will be charged with false pretense for writing bogus insurance policies.

Police say the case began to come together last year when Santo Saucier of Waveland filed an insurance claim with Marengo's Insurance Agency.

"I had a rental trailer, and it burned down to the ground, and I go to Joe Marengo where I had my insurance at for two years and Joe tells me I didn't have insurance, that there was a mistake made," Saucier said. "He kept telling me it was an honest mistake and here we are."

Marengo Insurance agency operated in the Colonial Plaza on highway 90 in Bay St. Louis until October of last year.

"What he was doing was collecting money and telling these people he was writing policies for them under another company, and the policies were not being written," Chief Investigator Tom Burleson said. "They were given bogus policy numbers. No one would check it. No one received a policy showing the coverage they had."

Authorities say Marengo pocketed at least $65,000 from fake homeowners and auto insurance policies.

"We had one subject stopped on a traffic violation for no insurance and she had purchased insurance through Marengo's. She had a receipt saying she did have insurance, but through our investigation we found she didn't," Burleson said.

We've received about 40 complaints, but the numbers could be in the 100's until we can get the public to actually check their insurance policies with Marengo's Insurance.

Police say the State Insurance Commission has revoked Marengo's insurance license.

We could not reach Joe Marengo for comment. Police say he's in the state of Georgia. They say they've been in contact with him, and he plans to turn himself in to Bay St. Louis authorities.

By Al Showers