Inspector General: Miami-Dade airport insurance scam led to loss of over $400,000

Ian Norris
Ian Norris Miami-Dade Corrections

An insurance company and its president overbilled Miami-Dade’s airport and a baggage-handling company by over $400,000, authorities said Wednesday.

Ian Norris and the company itself, Sabal Insurance Group, were charged Wednesday with five counts of grand theft stemming from premiums sold in 2009 and 2010.

Agents with the Miami-Dade Inspector General’s office say Norris and Sabal fraudulently billed for workers compensation and general liability insurance, then pocketed the differences.

The victims: the Miami-Dade Aviation Department and Quality Aircraft Services Inc., which contracted with the county to handle baggage at the airport.

Norris is the ex-husband of Wendy Norris, who was previously the head of Miami-Dade’s General Services Administration, now known as Internal Services. She resigned in 2013.

The Inspector General, along with investigators from the State Attorney’s Office and Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud, launched the probe after a whistle-blower came forward with detailed records of the scheme.

Norris deliberately miscalculated revenue and data to inflate the costs of insurance needed to cover employees, according to an arrest warrant by OIG agent James Johnson.

“The arrest of Norris is part of the OIG’s continued effort to build a strong fraud prevention culture at the Miami International Airport,” Miami-Dade Inspector General Mary T. Cagle said in a press release.

Norris was still in jail late Wednesday. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

This was not the first corruption case involving companies associated with the airport.

Last year, prosecutors accused three operators of an exclusive lounge for airline passengers of siphoning millions of dollars intended for Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department. Their suspected haul was over $2.19 million.

Back in 2010, 17 curbside baggage handlers were arrested and accused of accepting money to smuggle luggage aboard airliners. American Airlines has replaced the company that hired them.

One decade ago, more than 20 people were arrested in the notorious “Fuel Farm” scandal, a series of schemes that included the theft of millions of gallons of jet fuel.

“Whether it be common theft or white-collar crime like Sabal’s insurance over-billing scheme, arrests like the one today should send a strong message that the Aviation Department and our law enforcement partners are leaving no stone unturned to uncover and prosecute criminal activity at Miami International Airport,” said Emilo Gonzalez, the department’s director.

Editor's note: The case against Ian Norris has been dismissed and expunged, according to Miami-Dade Circuit Court records.