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2 Louisiana insurance fraud investigators fatally shot
By Insure.com staff

Two Louisiana Department of Insurance fraud investigators were shot and killed June 7 when they tried to collect information from an insurance agent, who later shot and killed himself.

Kim Sledge was an 11-year veteran of the department who began her career in the health division and later became an investigator in the fraud section, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said in a media statement. Rhett Jeansonne had been a fraud investigator for the department since November 2006.

"They paid the ultimate price of doing the job they loved very much," Donelon said in an emotional press conference the day after the shootings.

The unarmed investigators were attempting to collect files from the insurance agency of John Melvin Lavergne in Ville Platte when the shootings occurred. In January, Lavergne was ordered to cease and desist from selling insurance after he was arrested on seven counts of prohibited acts and unfair trade practices, Donelon said. According to investigators, the 65-year-old agent failed to send customers' premium payments to insurance companies, resulting in the issuance of seven cancellation notices.

Lavergne's legal troubles predated this year's arrest. He was also ordered to cease and desist from the insurance business in November 2009, but that order was lifted by the state's division of administrative law in January 2010.

In the press conference Donelon said his department will review all its investigatory policies to prevent another such tragedy from happening.

"First and foremost we want our investigators to be safe and free from harm when conducting investigations," he said.


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