Insurance agent Kelsey Ketron Randolph appeared before a state agency Wednesday to contest the state’s attempt to keep her from reactivating her license, but the case was continued to an undetermined date because her lawyer asked for more time to represent her.
The agent is vice president of Universal International Insurance Inc., according to her LinkedIn profile. She is the daughter of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, who is the Designated Responsible Licensed Producer (DRLP) of Universal International Insurance Inc. according to the Tennessee Insurance Division. Randolph also was elected last year as a member of the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee.
Randolph appeared at a license revocation hearing at the Tennessee Insurance Division at the Department of Commerce & Insurance. The division filed a cease and desist order on May 29 to stop her from selling insurance because it says her license is inactive. She was a licensee from Feb. 16, 2012 through Aug. 31, 2016.
The agent is identified by her maiden name of Ketron in official documents in the case, which dates to before she was married.
Universal is named in a lawsuit filed August 2018 by Susan and Charles Daniel Calvin of Shelbyville claiming that Randolph accepted payment to open a homeowners’ insurance policy on their behalf but never followed through, committing a breach of contract. They say their house was badly damaged from frozen pipes around January 2018.
Randolph was the agent and primary point of contact for the Calvins, despite having an expired license, the Tennessee Insurance Division said.
She was represented at the hearing by James G. Thomas and Aubrey B. Harwell Jr. of Neal & Harwell PLC of Nashville. The hearing was part of the process to stop her from ever reactivating her license, the division said.
Requesting more time
Harwell told Administrative Law Judge Phillip Hilliard that the lead lawyer is Trey Harwell, who was unable to attend because he had a schedule conflict in his role of serving on the board of the Nashville Airport Authority, which had a function at the time of the hearing. Aubrey Harwell said he had only spoken to Randolph for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and for a short period of time. So, the lawyer asked for a continuance.
Aubrey Harwell told The Murfreesboro Post on Thursday, in a follow-up interview, that his client had retained his firm on Tuesday afternoon. Trey Harwell was assigned as the lead lawyer.
“I don’t think anything should happen until counsel can provide a fair and decent defense,” he said about Wednesday’s hearing.
The Insurance Division’s assistant general counsel, Vishan Ramcharan, objected to the continuance, saying the state gave adequate notice of the hearing, giving Randolph ample time to find a lawyer. He said that the state spent considerable time preparing for the hearing and that several witnesses had traveled from great distances to attend.
Those witnesses who were present included Susan Calvin, who took time off work to attend and drove from Shelbyville, Ramcharan said.
Ramcharan said he only learned about the defendant’s motion to continue on Tuesday afternoon.
Aubrey Harwell said that Trey Harwell, his son, “has a better grip of this than I do.” He also said there were numerous allegations and he was not prepared to discuss them.
“A fair trial would suggest we have time to adequately prepare and get ready,” Aubrey Harwell said, adding there are two sides to a story.
Hilliard said he believed Randolph, in delaying her decision to find a lawyer, “didn’t understand the gravity of this situation” and granted the motion to continue the case. He suggested Trey Harwell talk to the division to set a new date.
Ramcharan said a date should be set immediately to benefit the witnesses and Susan Calvin, whom he called a victim. He suggested a date of Sept. 20. He also suggested that Randolph should have to pay some form of compensation for witnesses’ travel expenses.
Aubrey Harwell asked for more time. The administrative judge told both parties to work out the details and that if they could not reach agreement, he would get involved.
Calvin said, after the hearing, that she was disappointed in the continuance.
After the hearing, Aubrey Harwell did not allow Randolph to answer media questions.
“This case will be tried out in the tribunal,” he said, “but there’s a court of public opinion, and her counsel deserves, and she deserves, for us to be prepared for the court of public opinion.”
Aubrey Harwell is co-founder and managing partner of law firm Neal and Harwell in Nashville, according to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center website. He specializes in crisis management, white-collar criminal defense work and commercial litigation. According to his company’s website, he represents Pilot Flying J on issues arising from an April 2013 federal raid relating to alleged rebate fraud. Pilot Flying J is owned by Jimmy Haslam, brother of former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. His biography says he has served “judges, governors, congressmen, state senators, mayors and state attorneys general.”
In addition to the license case, Randolph faces potential criminal charges, according to the Murfreesboro Police Department.
The Calvins filed a fraud complaint in June 2018 with the Murfreesboro Police Department, the department’s records show.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment at this time,” said Murfreesboro Detective Chris Pitts. “While we understand the victims’ frustration being a year has passed since they filed the report, the case is actively being investigated by multiple agencies and criminal charges will follow.”
Two Rutherford County Republican leaders shared their thoughts on the issue since Randolph serves on the State Executive Committee, which is the party’s governing board.
Daniel Gammon, chairman of the Rutherford County Republican Party, said that she holds an de facto seat on the local board because of her state office. He said all he knows of the case is what he has seen in the news. If the party were to take any action, it would be up to the state committee, he said.
There are three other Republicans representing Rutherford County in the State Executive Committee. One of those members, Lynne Davis, said she likes to believe the best about people and would give Randolph the benefit of the doubt.
“There’s too many things that have not been brought to light,” she said. “Kelsey’s a fine young lady. There’s always two sides to the story. I’ve not heard her side of the story yet.”