News Releases

Title: Sylacauga Man Arrested for Insurance Fraud
Contact: Steve Holmes, PIO
(334) 241-4166

A Sylacauga man was arrested Monday (6/15/2015) after an investigation by the Fraud Division of the Alabama Department of Insurance, State Fire Marshal's Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau completed their investigation into a suspicious insurance claim.

A Talladega County Grand Jury Indicted Brantley Pearson Shaw, 27, of Sylacauga last week for allegedly filing a false claim against Progressive Insurance Company. 

Shaw is accused of being involved in a single vehicle accident involving his 2008 Harley Davidson Motorcycle on April 5, 2014 in Childersburg, prior to purchasing insurance on the vehicle. Hours after the accident, records indicate the accused purchased an insurance policy on the motorcycle from Progressive. Six days later, a claim was filed for damages estimated at more than $5,000 for an accident that was reported to have happened on the same day, April 11.

Documents and interviews led to the Shaw's indictment for Insurance Fraud, First Degree, which can carry a penalty of from two to twenty years in prison upon conviction.


Title: St. Clair Woman Arrested for Insurance Fraud
Contact: Steve Holmes, PIO
(334) 241-4166

A Cropwell woman was arrested Thursday (6/18/15) after her indictment on charges of Insurance Fraud.

St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor reports that Carolyn Bunt, 46, was charged with First Degree Insurance Fraud after her grand Jury indictment last week.

Minor reported that Bunt was "charged with providing false information, resulting in fraudulent insurance payments in excess of $240,000."

Specifically, Bunt is accused of fabricating bills and submitting them to an insurance company for payment, after the death of her daughter, Meredith Ashley Brown, who died at the age of 21 in 2011.

Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk, whose Fraud Division of the Alabama Department of Insurance began investigating the case in 2014, elaborated that "Insurance Fraud is a crime and will continue to be vigorously pursued here and elsewhere."

"Fraud such as this is, in effect, stealing; stealing not only from the insurance provider but from all insurance consumers through the higher rates the providers must charge," Paulk added.

Bunt turned herself in to St. Clair County Jail Thursday and was promptly released after posting a $10,000 bond. Her arraignment is set for August.

First Degree Insurance Fraud is a Class B Felony and carries a penalty of two to twenty years in prison.

Title: McClain Fire: Arson
Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166

Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk reports that the investigation into the cause of the fire that gutted a house owned by professional football player Rolando McClain has “determined the fire to have been intentionally set.”

Although the fire was the result of arson, no arrests have been made at this time and the investigation continues.

Anyone with information on this or any other suspected Arson case in Alabama is asked contact the Alabama Arson Hotline at 1-800-654-0775, or

Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 240-4434

February    Smoking and Medical Oxygen


Smoking is the leading factor in home fires involving medical oxygen.


Many people using medical oxygen have other health issues that may prevent them from escaping the fire, responding to a smoke alarm, etc. For this reason, there is no substitute for prevention.


Since the safest place to smoke is outdoors, most of these fires happen when it is too cold to go outside to smoke.


Oxygen makes things burn much faster. Think of what happens when you blow into a fire; it makes the flame bigger. Normally, the air we breathe is about 20% oxygen. The air delivered to patients using medical oxygen therapy is nearly 100%, making it extremely flammable.


Smokers who use home oxygen may understand the need to turn the tank off before lighting up, but may not realize that the danger persists, even when the oxygen isn’t flowing. Oxygen can build up not only in the home, but also on the hair, clothes, and body of the patient and ignite when a heat source—like a cigarette—comes close to the face, causing severe burns.


Facial hair raises the risk of home oxygen therapy-related burns.


There is no safe way to smoke when using home oxygen. Should an individual need to smoke, it is important to first turn off the tank, and wait 10 full minutes before going outside to smoke.


Put a "NO SMOKING" sign in every room where oxygen is used.


More than 1 million people in the United States use home oxygen therapy, and it is on the rise around the world, especially in countries where smoking is increasing, the researchers say.


Contact: Steve Holmes
(334) 241-4166



As temperatures drop, families often look for alternative ways to generate heat throughout their homes. While space heaters are good sources of warmth, they can be very dangerous. Space heaters account for about one-third of home heating fires and 80 percent of home heating fire deaths annually, according to local fire officials.


Home heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths in Alabama, with almost half of these fires occurring in the months of December, January and February. Common household mistakes contribute to the majority of these fires, such as placing a space heater too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding.


The (Name) offers the following safety tips. 


·         Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn heaters off when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Choose models that have automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally.
  • Place space heater on solid, flat surface.
  • Never use an extension cord with a portable heater.

·         Check the cord before plugging in the heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use. Instead, have an electrician replace the cord or replace the heater. Remember: simply putting tape on the cord is not enough to prevent overheating and fire.


·         Keep portable electric heaters away from sinks, tubs and other wet or damp places to avoid deadly electric shocks.