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Woman charged with insurance theft

SIBLEY, Iowa -- An Ocheyedan, Iowa, woman who worked in Sibley allegedly used her position to fraudulently obtain insurance coverage for herself and family members, according to charges filed in Osceola County District Court Monday morning.

Linda Rae Kleve, 59, is charged with two counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree theft of fraudulent practice. It is alleged that from 2004 to 2010, while working for the office of Ellerbroek & Associates, an insurance, real estate and auctioneering firm, she used her position as office manager/secretary/judiciary to insure her two sons and herself at a value of more than $20,000.

Kleve is alleged to have paid for auto and home insurance with funds provided from Ellerbroek & Associates, and also paid herself a commission on the policies. She resigned before the thefts were discovered.

According to Osceola County Sheriff Doug Weber, Kleve is not in custody, but asked to appear in court at a later date on the charges.

Ellerbroek & Associates president Wade Ellerbroek, in a statement issued Monday morning, assured clients that all of their records were safe and secure.

"In response to recent felony charges brought by the Osceola County Attorney's Office against a former employee, I can only say it is apparent our trust was misplaced," Ellerbroek said. "We are more than a little bit disappointed, to say the least.... Who would have thought a random I.R.S. audit would turn up what now appears to be major embezzlement."

He never thought, he stated, that the computer programs, automated banking system and safeguards put in place could all be breached.

"Looking back, there were signs," he added, "but you naturally trust your employees."

Ellerbroek said the office is fully staffed, with Kati Jacobs taking over the duties as office manager after 12 years with the agency. Another employee, Katie Jeppesen, was brought on board part-time with plans to replace a future retiree, but has now transitioned to full-time. The two hold multiple licenses, and Tim Ellerbroek has recently gotten his insurance license.

Ellerbroek & Associates current staff has more than 60 years experience, Wade Ellerbroek stated, and is well prepared to continue with top-notch service as they approach their 100th anniversary.