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Longtime Raleigh Insurance Agent Charged With Embezzlement

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Wake County insurance agent who has been in business for more than 40 years was charged with embezzlement Tuesday, authorities said.

James R. Dupree, 63, of 7000 Ebenezer Church Road in Raleigh, was charged with embezzlement by an insurance agent, Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said in a statement.

Dupree, a licensed agent since 1964 and owner of two former insurance agencies, is believed to have misappropriated more than $46,000 in collected insurance premiums, Long said.

Investigators in the state's Department of Insurance believe the premiums should have been remitted to insurance companies to pay for clients' policies but instead were used to keep Dupree's businesses afloat.

Dupree's attorney said that customers were not uninsured and that all premiums were paid.

"No insured customer has lost a dime or gone without coverage," said Hill Allen, Dupree's attorney. "It's just a question of over a period of time there was some co-mingling of accounts, but no one out there that had coverage or money taken from them."

Dupree's two agencies, now closed, were at the same location, 3305 Durham Dr., and were registered under Dupree Insurance Services, LLC.

Department officials began looking into Dupree's business practices in 2004, when the North Carolina Rate Bureau advised the Department that Dupree had failed to remit about $14,000 in premiums, Long's office said.

An audit of his business uncovered evidence of further alleged misappropriations, and the case was turned over to Department of Insurance investigators, who are sworn law enforcement officers with the power of arrest.

Dupree surrendered to Department investigators at his attorney's office in Raleigh on Tuesday and was processed at the Wake County jail.