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Police: Two Louisiana fraud investigators killed; suspect dead

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Two insurance fraud investigators slain at Louisiana business
  • They were killed in Ville Platte, north of Lafayette
  • The suspect in their deaths died of self-inflicted wound, police said

(CNN) -- Two Louisiana insurance fraud investigators were killed Tuesday while attempting to collect information from an insurance agent who was later found dead, officials said.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon identified the investigators as Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge.

The insurance agent had previously faced criminal charges and civil sanctions, according to police and the insurance office.

"My deepest sympathies go out to the loved ones of our two departed colleagues, in particular, the surviving spouses and children of these brave individuals," Donelon said in a statement.

Police in Ville Platte, about 50 miles north of Lafayette, got a call of shots fired at Lavergne Insurance about 1 p.m., said Trooper Stephen Hammons, spokesman for Louisiana State Police.

The two investigators were transported to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead, he said. It was not immediately clear why specifically they had gone to the business.

State and local SWAT officers tried to make contact with the person barricaded inside the business. They later made entry and found suspect Melvin Lavergne, 67, dead of a self-inflicted wound, Hammons said.

They found a long rifle, but Hammons did not know if it was believed to be the weapon used to shoot the investigators.

Troopers in January arrested the suspect, also referred to as John Melvin Lavergne, on a complaint alleging he conducted unfair trade practices.

The insurance department said Lavergne was served by Department of Insurance Fraud Section investigators with a summary suspension of his license, a cease-and-desist order, a $4,500 fine notice and notice of proposed license revocation for alleged misappropriation of insurance premiums. An update on that case was not immediately available Tuesday night.

The insurance department said that Lavergne failed to remit more than $1,160 in premiums to insurance companies, which resulted in four of his clients having their insurance policies canceled due to non-payment of premiums, it said in a January 2011 press release.

In November 2009, the department announced Lavergne's licenses would be suspended six months because he allegedly provided fraudulent proof of insurance to a motor vehicles department on four occasions. It also fined him $16,500.

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.