For Immediate Release: May 1, 2018

Contact: Barry Smith at 919-807-6014

Suspended chief charged with insurance fraud, embezzlement from Johnston County volunteer fire department

RALEIGH -- North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey today announced the arrest of a suspended Johnston County volunteer fire chief on felony insurance fraud and embezzlement charges.

Kenan Wayne Kearney, 44, of 525 Thompson Road, Four Oaks, was arrested on April 25 and charged with six counts of insurance fraud and seven counts of embezzlement. He was placed under a $25,000 secured bond. Kearney was chief of the Blackman’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department. He was suspended from the chief’s role following a prior arrest by the Johnston County Sheriff’s office.

“It’s heart-breaking to see a person charged with the trust of volunteer firefighters accused of such serious crimes,” Commissioner Causey said. “I hope the firefighters and the people in the fire district will rally around the department as it moves forward following this sad news.”

Special agents with the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division accuse Kearney of falsely presenting statements supporting insurance claims on an American Alternative Insurance Company policy. He is also accused of converting $25,889.31 in insurance claim payments intended for the fire department to his own use.

Kearney is accused of turning in claims for four portable radios, a portable air pack, and a thermal imaging device, claiming they were lost or damaged, when in fact they weren’t lost or damaged.

Insurance fraud costs American consumers approximately $80 billion dollars a year. According to Commissioner Causey, fraud costs North Carolinians between 15 and 20 cents of every dollar paid on insurance premiums -- and it’s getting worse.

“I am determined to stem the tide of insurance fraud in this state in order to save residents money,” said Commissioner Causey. “That’s why I am dedicated to the mission of our NCDOI law enforcement officers who investigate and prosecute claims of insurance and bail bonding fraud.”

To report suspected fraud, contact the N.C. Department of Insurance Criminal Investigation Division at 919-807-6840.  Callers may remain anonymous.  Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com

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