Investigators from the Georgia insurance commissioner’s office searched an insurance agency owned by the mayor of Milledgeville on Tuesday, part of an ongoing investigation into claims of misused insurance premiums.
“Our office executed a search warrant yesterday on Wilkinson Insurance Agency,” said Glenn Allen, spokesman for the commissioner of insurance.
Investigators seized files and several other items, he said. A copy of the warrant wasn’t immediately available.
Allen said the investigation started when a complaint arrived in the insurance commissioner’s office in early November. State insurance investigators visited the Wilkinson Insurance office and interviewed several employees at that time, he said. The business is owned by Mayor Richard Bentley.
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Milledgeville police also received a complaint Dec. 2, and Police Chief Dray Swicord forwarded it to the GBI. Swicord said he did so to avoid a possible conflict of interest in investigating a business owned by the mayor.
The GBI is working closely with the insurance commissioner on the investigation, which is likely to take some time, said Joe Wooten, assistant special agent in charge at the GBI Milledgeville office.
In that complaint to Milledgeville police, Theodore Harris, owner of Harris Trucking Inc., of Gordon, said he bought insurance through Bentley in April but soon got notice that he didn’t have the workers’ compensation coverage he’d paid for.
Harris told police that a Wilkinson Insurance employee said a refund was impossible “because the account which the payment would come from has been cleared out due to a medical emergency that Bentley experienced.” Without that coverage, the trucking company couldn’t operate, he said.
Harris declined to comment on his complaint Wednesday, referring questions to his attorney, Wayne Kendall. Kendall also declined comment, saying he was new to the case.
Bentley is on medical leave from his job as mayor. On Tuesday, a Wilkinson employee said no one there would comment.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.