A Lawrenceville resident was arrested Thursday morning at his workplace in a Gainesville office on Jesse Jewell Parkway for allegedly collecting nearly $1 million in misappropriated claims from a Japanese insurance company.
Ken Dewberry, 42, was working in his office at Summit Consulting on the second floor of the Wachovia building when state insurance fraud unit agents arrested him on a warrant issued by Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine. Oxendine accompanied the agents to Gainesville for the arrest.
Eighteen other warrants were issued for the arrests of metro Atlanta individuals who allegedly worked with Dewberry, who authorities suspect to be the operation ringleader.
Dewberry has been charged with 30 counts of theft by taking and also faces charges under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The 18 alleged co-conspirators also face charges under the RICO Act.
Oxendine said his office is "looking into the possibility" that Dewberry may have committed fraudulent acts while working at Summit Consulting, but said he believes Dewberry did not commit fraud in the past couple of years he worked at the Florida-based workers compensation company.
Summit Consulting has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.
According to Oxendine, Dewberry was working at Sompo Japan Insurance Co. of America at the time the theft occurred between March 1, 2001, and March 30, 2004.
"Someone at the Sompo Atlanta office was changing the names and addresses of vendors and then requesting and distributing medical claim checks to people that had not performed any services on the claimants," Oxendine said. "Our investigation has led us to suspect Ken Dewberry."
A total of 473 checks were issued to 21 different individuals in the insurance fraud ploy that amounts to a $995,641.75 loss for the Japanese insurance company. Oxendine said the checks allegedly were cashed by 18 co-conspirators.
Dewberry’s financial records during the time of the loss show approximately $154,000 in unexplained deposits into his checking and savings accounts. Oxendine said personal connections can be drawn between Dewberry and nearly all of the check recipients, many of whom he knew from previously living in New York.
"So a check would come out of the system addressed to his buddy," Oxendine said of Dewberry’s alleged scheme. "They would cash the check and keep a commission for them and give the rest to him."
Glenn Allen, spokesman for the insurance commissioner, said the state office had turned the case over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s office for prosecution, but the system was "backlogged" and the insurance commissioner’s office decided to pursue the case.
Allen said no known suspects involved in the insurance fraud scheme appear to reside in Gainesville at this time, but there is one suspect whose address is unknown.