Insurance company probes claim against SBCISD

Allegations made by ex-after school director

SAN BENITO — An international insurance company says it is investigating allegations that a former school employee made against the San Benito school district.

David F. McCreary, vice president of Chubb North American Claims, states the company is investigating former after-school Director Jack Garcia’s allegation that the district misled the VISA credit card company regarding a $17,214 nonrefundable purchase of airline tickets to fly the chess team to Houston for a state championship tournament.

Yesterday, Superintendent Nate Carman declined comment.

“The district cannot comment on an independent third party’s alleged action,” district spokeswoman Isabel Gonzalez stated.

Garcia claims Carman fired him so Visa would reimburse the district for the airline ticket purchase.

On Jan. 31, Garcia used his district VISA card to buy $17,214 worth of Southwest Airlines tickets to fly 42 students and 17 chaperones to the 2019 Texas State Scholastic Chess Championships in Houston March 8 to 11.

Then on Feb. 13, Carman reprimanded him for making an unauthorized purchase, ordering him to cancel the nonrefundable reservations, Garcia said.

Carman then chartered a bus to take the chess team to Houston.

According to Carman, an assistant superintendent told Garcia he was “to work with Southwest Airlines to obtain a refund. If you were unable to do so, our credit card company had recommended canceling the airline tickets so that we could be reimbursed as these tickets would not be used.”

On March 28, Carman fired Garcia, who had also served as the chess team’s coordinator.

Garcia claims VISA’s documents indicate Carman fired him to comply with the credit card company’s reimbursement requirements.

The documents state VISA’s Commercial and Business Credit Card Liability Waiver Program requires the buyer of a contested purchase be fired in order for the company to return the money.

Garcia also claims the school district may have committed fraud by indicating in a VISA affidavit the $17,214 ticket purchase “does not benefit” the district.

Garcia argues the airline tickets would have benefited the chess team because its players, who ranged from kindergarteners to seniors, would have arrived rested for the 6 p.m. championship tournament that ran late into the night.

VISA’s documents raise other questions, he said.

Garcia said the documents show VISA does not return money in cases in which “those goods or services are of the type which are regularly purchased by or for the” district.

Garcia claims he set a long practice of airline ticket purchases for the chess team.

For 15 years, he argues, he had used his district credit card to buy airline tickets for the chess team, always buying them without a purchase order.

Earlier this month, Gonzalez stated VISA had reimbursed the district.

For weeks, Garcia said, the credit card company was demanding he pay the $17,214.

In an Aug. 19 letter to Tony Conners, Garcia’s attorney, McCreary states Chubb North American Claims is investigating Garcia’s allegations.

“At Chubb, we take the allegation of fraud seriously and appreciate your correspondence regarding the facts surrounding the claim in question for $17,000,” McCreary states.

“At this time, I am in the process of gathering all of the claim information and will be working with our internal Special Investigations Unit to review and properly investigate these allegations,” he states.

In the letter, McCreary states the company has stopped trying to collect the money from Garcia.

“I have advised my primary contact at RMC to stop any and all collection activities towards Mr. Garcia (until) we complete our investigation,” he states. “Additionally, I will be working with our legal department to see what information we can/cannot share with you as it pertains to the initial claim submission and our investigation.”

McCreary’s letter contains no other information about the investigation or its timetable.