Under the Dome

Insurance commissioner candidate faced insurance fraud charges

In 2014, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced that Charlotte construction company owner Ronald Pierce had been arrested on 108 fraud charges.

Now Pierce has filed to run for Goodwin’s job as a Republican, saying that the two-term Democrat “put me in jail under false charges for telling the truth.”

Pierce is the third Republican to join the race. He’ll face Heather Grant, a former U.S. Senate candidate and nurse practitioner from Wilkesboro, and Mike Causey, a state Department of Transportation employee who has run for the job four times.

The Department of Insurance spent a year investigating Pierce and accused him of providing inflated hail-damage repair estimates to homeowners and receiving $450,000 in fraudulent claims payments from insurance companies. He’d been serving as an insurance adjuster without a license for two construction companies he owned, investigators said.

On his campaign website, Pierce says he’s written a book about the experience. He promises to take a hard line against insurance companies he says are cheating their customers.

“This commission was established to serve the citizens of North Carolina, not to allow the insurance companies to do as they damn well please in this state,” Pierce wrote on the website.

As for the criminal case against Pierce? It’s over.

“After careful review of the case, prosecutors dismissed the charges due to insufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Meghan Cooke McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the district attorney’s office, Pierce had deposited checks without proper signatures from the insured parties or mortgage companies. But the checks were for legitimate payments, “making it a significant challenge to prove any fraudulent intent,” McDonald said.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter