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.

An examination of the search warrant and the police affidavit asking for the warrant reveals what officers were looking for when they raided Kelsey Ketron Randolph’s place of business and home on July 17.

Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron owns Universal International Insurance Agency, and his daughter, Kelsey Ketron Randolph, is vice president of the company. The company was raided by the Murfreesboro Police Department on July 17.

The affidavit alleges that Universal’s errors and omissions (E&O) insurance has lapsed and the company allegedly provided an altered proof of insurance form showing it had a policy to an investigator with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. E&O is a type of professional liability insurance protecting certain licensed professionals against claims. Insurance agencies are required to carry such coverage, according to the Commerce Department.

The raid was based on a police report alleging fraud filed by Universal customer Susan Calvin.

After the raid had been carrier out, the warrant was filed July 19 by Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk Melissa Harrell and her staff. The Murfreesboro Post retrieved a copy of the warrant and affidavit from the Rutherford County General Sessions Court Clerk’s Office.

Murfreesboro Police Department Det. Christopher Pitts filled out the affidavit to request the issuance of the warrant, which was delivered to Pitts at 5:45 p.m. on July 16. General Sessions Judge Ben Bennett signed off on the warrant.

The warrant was executed the following day by the MPD. The seized property was retained subject to the orders of the Rutherford County Criminal Court.

The judge wrote in the warrant that police provided probable cause to search for evidence of forgery, theft ($1,000-$2,500) and imitating a licensed professional.

An inventory of evidence says 56 items were taken, ranging from bankers’ boxes of files to Randolph’s insurance license and more.

Targeted evidence included:

  • Customer files including policies from Sept. 1, 2016 through the time of the warrant.
  • “Records relating to any insurance providers brokered by Universal, where an Errors and Omissions policy covering Universal was sent to said provider as proof of coverage from the dates of September 12th, 2017 through the date of service of this warrant.”
  • Correspondence of agents or employees about policies starting from Sept. 1, 2016; error and omissions insurance coverage for Universal; customers who told the agency saying their policy was refused or had a cancellation notice; and the status of Randolph’s license.
  • Financial records starting from Aug. 1, 2016.
  • Computers and other media, plus evidence of programs that eliminate data from computers, passwords, internet protocol addresses used by computers, internet search history and other such information. The warrant allows the police to seize such property off-site was well. The warrant directed police to copy rather than seize data when possible, among other measures, to limit the disruption on Universal’s business operations.
  • Randolph’s personal and business cell phones and passwords. Randolph was directed to help the government disable any passwords.
  • Rent receipts, cancelled mail and other data showing who controls Universal’s office.

The warrant allowed the search of trash receptacles and mailboxes at Randolph’s home.

Pitts’ affidavit says that Randolph obtained a quote for a homeowners’ policy for Susan Calvin from Appalachian Underwriters Inc. that would have taken effect on Aug. 8, 2017 for $1,608.12. On Sept. 8, 2017, the mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, wrote Appalachian a check and sent it to Universal’s mailing address. Around Sept. 15, the check was deposited by Universal into an account it held at First Tennessee Bank.

Calvin did not receive any more information and assumed the policy was in place, the affidavit said. The affidavit says Randolph “never forwarded or sent any payment to Appalachian Underwriters on behalf of the Calvin’s.”

A pipe in the Calvins’ home ruptured in early 2018, the affidavit said. Randolph sent a water damage restoration company to inspect the home. Calvin did not hear from Randolph for two months. During that time, Calvin contacted Appalachian, which said they never received payment and her policy number was only a quote number and no policy existed.

Calvin contacted the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance which assigned investigator Jake Barlow to the case. A formal inquisition was served on Randolph on July 23, 2018. That same day, Universal issued a check to Wells Fargo for $1,608.12.

Barlow asked for a copy of the errors and omissions insurance policy from Universal and received a declaration saying they were insured by American Southern Home Insurance Co. for Sept. 12, 2017 to Sept. 12, 2018, the affidavit said. Barlow inspected the document and determined that the page had allegedly been modified with a “7” and “8” on the end of the years being out of line with the rest of the text and showing an unnatural shading, the affidavit said.

Barlow contacted American Southern. He received a declaration page showing the same policy number but effective dates from Sept. 12, 2016 to Sept. 12, 2017, the affidavit said. Barlow determined that the policy had not been renewed and no other E&O policy had been taken out by Universal, the affidavit said.

The affidavit says that Randolph gave a deposition in the Calvin lawsuit on April 9 of this year in which she said that she personally negotiated Calvin’s policy in 2017. State records show her license expired on Aug. 31, 2016, the affidavit says.

Pitts said in the affidavit that on July 11 he obtained a subpoena for Universal’s records regarding its E&O policy from Sept. 12, 2016. An employee called Bill Ketron, who came to the office and said Randolph had taken that information to Nashville the day before for her administrative hearing and had not returned with it. Bill Ketron said he tried to call his daughter but she did not answer.

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