Arraignment scheduled for CHP officer charged with fraud
An arraignment hearing has been set for March 18 in an insurance fraud case against a California Highway Patrol officer and his wife.
One of three pending felony counts against Kathleen and Charles Chapman was dropped by Judge Jerald Lasarow Wednesday in El Dorado County Municipal Court. Lasarow said there wasn’t enough evidence citing that the guidelines to an insurance policy purchased by the Chapmans may not have been mailed to the couple.
The Chapmans were paid approximately $40,000 from California State Automobile Association for damages to their mobile home in a 1996 fire. The Chapmans claimed they lost personal items in the blaze although they weren’t living there at the time. The couple sold their property to Sandra Woodward before the fire who reportedly was living in the structure when it burned. The title allegedly never changed hands.
The Chapmans have plead not guilty and face up to five years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000 apiece.
Lasarow said District Attorney Paul Sutherland can pursue the charges dealing with the purported loss of personal property. A claims investigator testified two weeks ago that CSAA only offers “owner-occupied” policies. Defense attorney Monte Reece said it wasn’t clear whether policyholders could claim losses if they rented their home.
Reece added that no evidence was presented by the prosecution to justify a criminal case against the Chapmans. He said that the case fits more in the civil category because CSAA may have overpaid them.
“I just can’t conceive someone who quote ‘sold their home’ would leave all of these items behind,” said Lasarow, who reviewed the claims list.
Both the judge and the lawyers had to bone up on the legalities regarding homeowners’ insurance and admit this case is complex and detailed.
“It’s very complicated even to those of us who have legal training,” said Reece. “It’s our position that my clients committed no crime.”
The case won’t be transferred to Judge Suzanne Kingsbury’s court because her husband is employed by the CHP. Charles Chapman has been a CHP officer for 29 years and currently is on disability leave.
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