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Insurance agent indicted for fraud

Published 2:33pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A local insurance agent has been indicted by a recent grand on charges related to a raid at his Russellville office in January, courthouse officials said.

Kirk Joel Berryman, 49, 301 Underwood Rd., Russellville, was indicted on five counts of insurance fraud and one count of possession of a still or alcohol manufacturing apparatus, Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said.

Rushing said the charges stem from a raid conducted by local and state authorities at Berryman’s business on January 16.

According to Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation were executing a search warrant at Berryman’s insurance agency in Russellville due to allegations of insurance fraud.

“We received numerous reports from individuals who took out an insurance policy with Mr. Berryman, made the insurance payments, and then later discovered their policy had been cancelled or it was not an active policy,” Oliver said.

“We had victims come forward in the weeks just before the raid who had this happen to them, so we launched an investigation.”

Oliver said the policies were for individuals all the way up to large farm operations, and they were looking at thousands of dollars that could have allegedly been taken from insurance customers who believed they had active policies.

“This could have been absolutely devastating if one of these people or one of these farms had something to happen and then they discovered that they have no insurance to cover it,” Oliver said.

“That’s the kind of thing that could have put somebody completely under. It could have been a very terrible situation.”

While searching Berryman’s vehicle, Oliver said officers found a partial still in the back of Berryman’s pickup truck that was located outside his insurance agency on Underwood Road in Russellville.

He said officers discovered components used in the manufacture of moonshine as well as actual moonshine itself.

Oliver said Berryman was arrested on the scene for those charges as officers continued to search his business.

He was formally arrested on the insurance fraud charges this past week following the indictments.

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