Kelsey Ketron Randolph pleaded not guilty Monday to dozens of counts related to an investigation of her family’s insurance business as well as her former involvement with her father’s campaign finance accounts.
Ketron made the not guilty plea during an arraignment hearing in Rutherford County Circuit Court. She is represented by Trey Harwell, who also is representing the insurance company, Universal International Insurance Agency Inc.
She is the daughter of Rutherford County Mayor and former State Sen. Bill Ketron, who attended the hearing at her side.
Ketron was arrested and charged on Nov. 4 on nearly 70 counts ranging from allegations of aggravated perjury to money laundering and impersonating a licensed insurance professional, related to depositions given in two civil lawsuits as well as her former role as her father’s campaign treasurer. Three counts are against the family’s insurance business, officials said during the arraignment.
Ketron posted a $100,000 bond on Nov. 8.
On Monday, Harwell issued this statement: “As previously stated, we will not try this case in the media but will instead vigorously defend Kelsey and the company in the judicial process. To be clear, as stated in court, Mayor Bill Ketron has not been charged or implicated in these indictments and was present only as a representative of the company and a father.”
The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. Local judicial officials have recused themselves due to potential conflicts of interest due to Bill Ketron’s position.
Senior Judge Walter Kurtz, a retired Circuit Court judge in Nashville, is handling the case in lieu of Judge David M. Bragg. Kurtz set the next hearing for Dec. 6 as a discussion docket, meaning the court will make sure prosecutors have handed over discovery evidence to the defense.
Crystle Carrion, a Division III Supervising Prosecutor with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, handed the discovery evidence over to Harwell following the hearing Monday.
Ensuring no conflict of interest
On Monday, Kurtz spent time discussing his concerns over a potential conflict of interest in Harwell and his firm representing both Universal as a corporate client, a majority of which is owned by Bill Ketron, and Kelsey Ketron as an individual client. Kurtz said he took on the case “dubious” about the dual representation given Bill Ketron’s roles as the defendant’s father and as the majority owner of the business corporation.
Kurtz asked Harwell to give a brief history of Universal. Harwell said Bill Ketron owns 51 percent and his daughter owns the remainder. Bill Ketron’s parents founded the company, and he once split ownership 50-50 with them before Kelsey Ketron became involved. The company currently has two employees, who were not named. Bill Ketron owns the office space, Harwell said.
Harwell said he had advised both Ketrons of the potential for a conflict of interest and they had both signed waivers. Harwell said he did not believe there was a conflict because there are only three indictments against Universal, all of which were related to three separate civil lawsuits against the company and were resolved, he said. Kurtz and Carrion said that the settlement of a civil case has nothing to do with the disposition of a criminal case.
Kurtz asked Carrion and Harwell whether Bill Ketron would be called as a witness, and both said they did not plan to call him.
“You do not see any conflict here,” Kurtz asked Harwell.
Harwell replied, “I do not.”
Kurtz questioned both Ketrons, who said they did not believe there was a conflict of interest. After additional discussion, Kurtz accepted the dual representation.