Former Starfish Insurance Agency bookkeeper had previous trouble

November 30, 2008


Staff Reporters

The Press-Register

Benton Gray Harvey, Starfish Insurance Agency's former bookkeeper, has been in trouble before.

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention won a judgment in Richmond, Va., in March 2005 against Harvey for $362,499.62. A spokeswoman for the Richmond-based board said that the case stemmed from Harvey's service overseas for the board as an accountant. She said she didn't know when or where Harvey served, or what he did that led the board to sue.

Mary Harvey of Liberty, Miss., who said she is Harvey's great-aunt, described him as a missionary in Istanbul.

Harvey and his roommate, Jonathan W. Adams, another former employee of Starfish in Gulf Shores, are accused of stealing thousands of dollars, some by selling bogus insurance.

Gulf Shores police don't know where Harvey or Adams are, but believe that they may have gone to Turkey, according to Sgt. Skip Callaway. Neighbors and those who did business with Harvey said he frequently talked about his time there.

Mary Harvey said that as far as she knew, Harvey and his parents were living in Orange Beach. She said the family had a falling-out more than three years ago and doesn't talk anymore.

The Press-Register was unable to locate any evidence that Harvey has ever been licensed as an accountant in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida or Virginia.

With the 9 percent interest imposed in the Virginia court's order, the debt owed to the Baptist convention now exceeds $500,000. The mission board tracked Harvey to a Perdido Beach Boulevard address in Orange Beach in December 2007 and filed notice of the judgment in Baldwin County court.

Baldwin County probate records show that Harvey took out a $218,500 mortgage in August 2007 to buy a condominium in Orange Beach's Mariner Lakes development from his boss, Starfish owner Pamela Wynona Schoen.

Neighbors there said that Adams and Harvey spent lavishly to remodel the condo. The men bought a convertible, hung out at the pool frequently and gave neighbors the idea that they were well-to-do insurance brokers.

In early 2008, Harvey tried to sell his condo association an insurance policy, said resident Kathy Vando. The group considered, then turned down, an offer that carried an annual premium that was $15,000 to $20,000 less than competing quotes, Vando said. It's not clear if Harvey meant to write a fake policy to cover his own home.

This summer, Harvey and Adams vanished, leaving food in the refrigerator and toiletries in the bathroom, Vando said. The power has since been turned off, and the owners association has filed a lien against Harvey seeking $639 in unpaid dues.

See also:

Police: Insurance swindle invovled big bucks, Mobile Press-Register, 11/30/08

Former SBC missionary accused of embezzling IMB funds now suspected in insurance scam, Associated Baptist Press, 12/1/08