Police raid Universal insurance

A Murfreesboro Police Department officer guards the entrance to Universal International Insurance Agency on Wednesday, July 17. Police say they executed a search warrant against the company’s Kelsey Ketron Randolph. Her father, Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, owns the company.

Editor's note: This story was originally posted Wednesday, July 17 and updated twice.

There were several new developments recently in the case of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron and his insurance company’s legal woes.

The Murfreesboro Police Department on Wednesday said it raided Ketron’s insurance company. The mayor said his daughter Kelsey Ketron Randolph’s home was searched as well.

Ketron said he was shocked by the raid.

“I was shocked and surprised at the search warrant,” Ketron said. “This has been very stressful on my family and staff. As an elected official here in Rutherford County, I’ve always been very transparent. I am cooperating to the fullest extent to the request.”

The MPD executed a search warrant at Universal International Insurance Agency as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations made against Randolph, said public information officer Larry Flowers. He declined further comment.

Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Randolph’s lawyer, Aubrey B. “Trey” Harwell III said his office had just learned about the raid about an hour-and-a-half before.

“We will fully cooperate with the authorities,” Harwell said.

Harwell said he represented Randolph, her father and the company for the purposes of the search warrant. He said he also is representing Randolph in the state’s efforts to revoke her insurance license. A new hearing in that matter has been set for Oct. 21.

At least two reports have been filed with MPD by clients of Universal alleging that Randolph took their payments for premiums but failed to properly handle their policies.

Susan and Charles Daniel Calvin of Shelbyville filed a fraud complaint in June 2018 with the Murfreesboro Police Department, the department’s records show.

The Calvins claim that Randolph accepted payment to open a homeowners’ insurance policy on their behalf but never followed through, committing a breach of contract, according to the lawsuit. They say their house was badly damaged from frozen pipes around January 2018.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we can’t comment at this time,” Murfreesboro Detective Chris Pitts said last week. “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.”

A police complaint was filed by Wade T. Hellemn of Lebanon on March 11 claiming insurance company fraud against Randolph. The MPD incident report lists these offenses: theft of property, impersonation of licensed professional and criminal simulation (forgery/counterfeiting).

According to the report, Hellemn says about $4,000 in insurance premiums were allegedly stolen. The report says there was water damage to his home. According to the report, Hellemn was a customer of Universal since 2013 and when he filed a claim in 2018, “he found that no policy had been taken out for him.”

The Calvins also have a lawsuit pending against Universal. The suit was filed in Rutherford County Circuit Court but is being handled by Wilson County Criminal Court Judge Brody Kane. A motion hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Aug. 5 in Carthage, according to Kane’s office, which did not say what the motion relates to.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit against Universal was settled for an undisclosed amount in June by Smyrna business Martin Construction and Restoration Co. LLC, according to Rutherford County Circuit Court documents. The company claims breach of contract.

A message requesting comment was left for Broderick L. Young, Universal’s attorney in the Martin case.

According to that lawsuit, the construction company, owned by Erica Martin, on or about June 23, 2016 submitted a renewal application for general liability and pollution insurance to Universal. Around July 6, 2016, Martin sent a check to Universal for $11,973.15 for payment to renew the policy with Berkley Insurance. Universal failed to renew the policy, the lawsuit said.

Around Oct. 24, 2016, Berkley told Martin the policy had not been paid and so the account would soon be cancelled, the lawsuit said. After reaching out to Universal with multiple emails, on Nov. 8, 2016, Randolph said “everything had been taken care of,” according to the lawsuit.

Randolph is identified by her maiden name of Ketron in the lawsuit.

Berkley told Martin on Dec. 4, 2016 it had not been paid and cancelled the policy, the lawsuit said. on Jan. 27, 2017, Randolph emailed the plaintiff with “a copy of a check purported to be the check that Universal paid to renew the Insurance Policy,” the lawsuit said. “However, the check was dated July 29, 2017, more than a year after Plaintiff paid the premium to Defendant Universal.”

Randolph on Feb. 7, 2017 again said the situation had been handled, the lawsuit said. The plaintiff asked for the certificates of insurance around Feb. 13, 2017, but was not given the documents. On Feb. 15, 2017, plaintiff asked for a refund but was not given it. Around the same day, Berkley Insurance turned the plaintiff’s account over to collections for non-payment, the lawsuit said.

The plaintiff had to obtain a new insurance policy to continue conducting business, the lawsuit said. The company had to reject about $46,800 worth of business because of Universal’s failure to renew the policy, the lawsuit said. Martin asked for a copy of its insurance records called a “loss run” to provide its new insurer but Universal refused, the lawsuit said.

When Martin filed the lawsuit, it asked for $150,000 plus costs as well as a jury trial.

A message asking for comment was left at Martin’s office.

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