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Former Sen. Eric Stewart indicted for insurance fraud

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 11:08 am

Former state Sen. Eric Stewart was arrested by Franklin County police Tuesday night. (Chattanooga Times-Free Press photo)

Former state senator and former Franklin County commissioner Eric Stewart has been indicted on theft and insurance fraud charges, stemming from an insurance dispute with a local contractor.

According to Franklin County Circuit Court records, Stewart was charged Monday on a two-count indictment with theft over $500 and committing a fraudulent insurance act during the period between Nov. 22, 2009 and Nov. 4, 2013.

Sheriff’s Dept. Sgt. Chris Guess confirmed Wednesday that Stewart has been charged with insurance claims fraud and theft of property valued between $500 and $1,000.

Guess said Stewart turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Department at 11 p.m. Tuesday. He added that Stewart posted $5,000 bond and has a Nov. 15 Circuit Court date set for arraignment.

The two-count indictment by the Franklin County Grand Jury Monday in Winchester stems from an insurance dispute with a local contractor.

Court records identify the victim in the case as Don and Bonnie Plattenburg, a couple whom 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said entrusted Stewart with providing them with workman’s comp insurance for their company.

Even though the Plattenburgs had paid for coverage, Taylor said state contractor licensing officials found their company was not covered and alerted the victims.

Stewart — who unsuccessfully ran for Congress against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. — allegedly used $750 for his personal use rather than applying it to the policy.

Taylor said the case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation then turned back over to state officials for prosecution.

—The (Winchester) Herald-Chronicle and Ben Benton of  the Chattanooga Times-Free Press contributed to this story.