For Immediate Release: November 20, 2013

Former Marion Fire Official Arrested for Alleged Embezzlement

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Thomas Dexter Swofford, 54, of 1379 Honeycutt Road, Marion; he was charged with two counts of embezzlement of funds by a public officer and trustee and two counts of embezzlement of funds greater than $100,000 by a public officer and trustee.

Department of Insurance criminal investigators allege that while acting as the chief of the Ashford North Cove Volunteer Fire Department, Swofford made more than 500 cash withdrawals from fire department accounts and retained the money for his own personal use. Investigators allege that between January 2010 and July 2013, Swofford embezzled more than $269,000 of fire department funds.

A joint investigation by the McDowell County District Attorney Brad Greenway, the North Carolina Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit and the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division was launched after a citizen lodged an anonymous complaint with the McDowell County Finance Office and after concerns were raised about the use of grant funds issued by the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Swofford was arrested on Nov. 20 and was placed under a $260,000 secured bond.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn state law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and prosecuting claims of insurance and bail bonding fraud. Since Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin took office in 2009, criminal investigators have made more than 800 arrests, resulting in 430 criminal convictions thus far. These efforts have delivered more than $55 million in restitution and recoveries for victims.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at