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Thursday, 09 June 2011 18:19

Two Louisiana Fraud Investigators Killed By An Insurance Agent

Two fraud investigators with the state Department of Insurance were shot and killed June 7 while trying to get information from an agent. Rhett Jeansonne, an investigator since 2006, and Kim Sledge, an 11-year employee of the insurance department, were shot and killed by insurance agent John Melvin Lavergne, who in the past had been cited for fraud and ordered to stop operations, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon confirmed in an emotional news conference. The insurance agent had previously faced criminal charges and civil sanctions, according to police and the insurance office.

"My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of our two departed colleagues, in particular, the surviving spouses and children of these brave individuals," Donelon said in a statement.

Police in Ville Platte, about 50 miles north of Lafayette, got a call of shots fired at Lavergne Insurance about 1 p.m., said Trooper Stephen Hammons, spokesman for Louisiana State Police.

The two investigators were transported to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead, he said. It was not immediately clear why specifically they had gone to the business.

Before turning his gun on himself, Lavergne barricaded himself for hours inside his Ville Platte, La. agency, Lavergne's Insurance Agency, while police surrounded the building, state police say.
"I have personally spoken to members of Ms. Sledge's and Mr. Jeansonne's families to express my sympathies over this tragic and unnecessary situation," Donelon says in a statement. "My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of our two departed colleagues, in particular, the surviving spouses and children of these brave individuals."

In November 2009 the Department of Insurance issued Lavergne, then 64, a cease and desist order, six-month license suspension, and a $16,500 fine for allegedly providing fraudulent proofs of insurance to the Lafayette Department of Motor Vehicles on several occasions.

Lavergne was issued a casualty, property and vehicle physical damage license in April 1977 which was valid through April 2011, acording to a statement from the insurance department at the time. Lavergne was also issued a life, accident and health license in May 1973, which was valid through April 2010.

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