Man pleads guilty in hole-in-one prize case

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Man pleads guilty in hole-in-one prize case

A businessman charged with failing to pay golfers for hole-in-one prizes insured by his company has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and agreed to pay a Montana man $10,000 of a promised $18,000 prize.

Kevin W. Kolenda of Norwalk, Conn., didn't attend Thursday's hearing before Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech in Missoula. His attorney, Brian Tipp, entered a guilty plea on Kolenda's behalf to acting as an insurer without a license. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed a felony insurance fraud charge. Kolenda was given a six-month suspended jail sentence.

Kolenda is the former president and CEO of hole-in-won.com, a company that collects premiums and agrees to pay cash prizes to winners of hole-in-one contests. He has been charged with failing to pay prizes in several states. Last month, he pleaded guilty in Seattle to two felony counts of selling insurance without a license and one count of first-degree theft. He has not been sentenced.

Complaints of Kolenda's company failing to pay prizes have been filed in several other states, and he has been sanctioned by regulators in Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina and Washington. Connecticut officials fined Kolenda $5.9 million in 2009 for illegally offering insurance without a license.

Kolenda was charged in Montana after Troy Peissig was denied an $18,000 prize after hitting a hole-in-one during a 2010 golf tournament in Missoula.

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