Ex-Johnston County fire chief ordered to pay $23K in restitution for insurance fraud

Johnston County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A former Johnston County volunteer fire chief received probation and was ordered to pay restitution after he filed false insurance claims, the North Carolina Department of Insurance announced Wednesday. 

In May 2018, Kenan Wayne Kearney, 45, of Four Oaks was accused of filing false insurance claims for fire equipment and then using $26,000 in insurance claim payments for the fire department to his own use.

Kearney pleaded guilty in Johnston County Superior Court to six felony counts of insurance fraud, seven counts of felony embezzlement, and 12 counts of felony obtaining property by false pretense, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said. 

Kearney was the former chief of the Blackman’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department.

Superior Court Judge Tanya T. Wallace gave Kearney a six to 17-month suspended sentence on the condition that he pay $23,841.31 in restitution, court costs, and submit to 36 months of supervised probation.

Kearney is forbidden from holding a position of trust or position to handle funds. He must also notify the state fire marshal within 14 days of being employed with a fire department.

“This is a sad day for the dedicated volunteer firefighters in Johnston County because Mr. Kearney held a position of trust with them,” Causey said. “But it’s also a good day, because justice has been served, and the fire department and insurance company will be reimbursed for their losses.”

Kearney turned in claims for four portable radios, a portable air pack, and a thermal imaging device, falsely saying that they were either lost or damaged between 2013 and 2017.

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