News Releases

Title: Former volunteer firefighter sentenced in arson case
Contact: Jennifer Bowen
(334) 269-3550

Chad M. Ellis, 30, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to setting three fires in Elmore County, the Alabama Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office announces.

Ellis, the former assistant chief of the Deatsville Volunteer Fire Department, was sentenced to probation in Elmore County Court Wednesday and ordered to pay $86,000 in restitution.

Ellis pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree arson in connection with two vacant house fires in the Deatsville area and one count of setting a woodland fire.

As part of his plea agreement, he will have no affiliation with any fire department for life and will undergo mandatory counseling.

The State Fire Marshal’s would like to thank the Elmore County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

Title: Jefferson County woman convicted in insurance fraud case
Contact: Jennifer Bowen
(334) 369-3550

Cassandra G. Smith of Jefferson County, Alabama, has been convicted of first and second degree insurance fraud, the Alabama Department of Insurance announces.

The indictment charged that Smith, a licensed insurance producer doing business as GSI Grant Smith Insurance, LLC, received an initial down payment towards the victims’ annual homeowner’s insurance premium, but the policies were later canceled for non-payment of premium after Smith kept the balance of the money paid to her. Smith allegedly advised the victims their policies were active and coverage was in place despite the policies having been cancelled.

A jury rendered the unanimous verdicts Wednesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. First-degree insurance fraud is a Class B felony and a conviction can carry a sentence of two to 20 years. Second-degree insurance fraud is a Class C felony and can carry a sentence of one to 10 years.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 30.

Title: Colbert County man charged with second-degree arson
Contact: Jennifer Bowen
(334) 269-3550

Christopher Edward Bixler, 36, has been arrested on charges of second-degree arson, the Alabama Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office announces.

Bixler was placed in the Colbert County Jail under a $15,000 bond on Tuesday.

The arrest is in connection with an Aug. 18, 2017 fire at his home, located at 780 Cross Street, Cherokee, Alabama.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office would like to thank the Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department, the Cherokee Police Department and the Colbert County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation.

Title: Haleyville woman sentenced in 2014 death
Contact: Jennifer Bowen
(334) 269-3550

The State Fire Marshal’s Office of the Alabama Department of Insurance announces that Tonya Dye, 43, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in the 2014 death of a Haleyville man.

Dye pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges on Friday before the Marion County Circuit Court.

On Jan. 13, 2014, firefighters discovered the body of Timmy D. Hyde, DOB: May 22, 1964, inside his burned home, located at 4958 County Highway 34, Haleyville, Alabama.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office would like to thank the following for their assistance and dedication to the investigation: The Haleyville Fire Department, Haleyville Fire Marshal Jeff Postell, Lt. Billy Pendley with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Haleyville Police Department and Lt. Tim Stein, Special Agent Bill Atkins, Deputy State Fire Marshall Greg Pinkard and Ken Mays with the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

Title: Muscle Shoals Insurance Salesman Arrested for Alleged Insurance Fraud and Exploitation of the Elderl
Contact: Mark Fowler
(334) 241-3550
Limestone County, Alabama

MONTGOMERY,ALABAMA (September 1, 2017) Brian Jones, District Attorney for the 39th Judicial Circuit, Limestone County, Alabama; James Ridling, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Insurance; and Joseph Borg, Director of the Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) announced today that Ronald “Ronny” Warren Powell, age 55, of Muscle Shoals, Alabama surrendered to authorities at the Limestone County Jail on August 30, 2017. 

Powell’s arrest stems from an August 11, 2017, Limestone County, Alabama Grand Jury indictment charging him with one count of Insurance Fraud 1st Degree and one count of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person 1st Degree.  Both charges are Class B felonies punishable by possible imprisonment of not less than two years nor more than twenty years imprisonment and up to a $30,000 fine per charge upon conviction.