NEW ORLEANS – A Pennsylvania insurance agent whose signature was allegedly forged on a $100,000 annuity application with Allianz Life Insurance is refusing to renounce ownership in the account until he is paid $10,000.

Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America filed a lawsuit Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Richard Sherwin, alleging fraud and extortion.

According to the complaint, former Allianz agent John Reardon forged Sherwin’s signature on an annuity application after his customer, Joseph Benevento, was rejected due to his age. Duped by the forged signature, the suit says Allianz issued the annuity in Sherwin’s name, funding it with Benevento’s $100,000.

Some months later in September 2015, the suit claims Benevento told Allianz he had not authorized the change in ownership to Sherwin and asked for his money back. After Allianz determined Reardon forged the signatures, the suit says they contacted Sherwin to renounce ownership. He has refused, the suit says, unless he is paid $10,000.

Allianza seeks a declaratory judgment terminating Sherwin’s interest in the annuity, as well as reimbursement for legal fees. It is represented by attorney Emily H. Edmunds of Saul Ewing LLP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Case number 2:15-cv-06876

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