CHP will investigate officer’s case
The California Highway Patrol will conduct an internal investigation of an insurance fraud case involving one of its officers.
Patrol officer Charles Chapman and his wife, Kathleen, turned themselves in last week to local authorities when arrest warrants were issued. Chapman has been with the CHP since March 1969 and is currently on disability leave. According to CHP Sgt. Roman Vondriska, Chapman had plans to retire before the charges were filed.
“We were surprised at the news,” Vondriska said. “We learned about it the day before he turned himself in.”
The law enforcement agency’s Internal Affairs Department has contacted the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office to inform them that a parallel investigation will soon begin. Vondriska said internal affairs not only looks at the criminal action but also the person’s conduct that may have some affect on the case.
The Chapmans have been charged with three counts of insurance fraud. They face up to five years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000 apiece.
The couple was booked at the county jail in South Lake Tahoe where they each posted $10,000 bail last Wednesday.
The accounts of alleged fraud happened in 1995 and 1996 when the couple sold their mobile home. According to the California Department of Insurance, the transfer of the property title never changed hands between the Chapmans and the new owner. Claiming there was roof damage to their home, the couple’s insurance carrier, California State Automobile Association, paid them $3,500 for repairs. The Chapmans allege they were living in the house when the damage occurred, a provision of the policy. DOI officials contend that the property had already been sold when the Chapmans filed the claim.
In March 1996, the mobile home burned down destroying the property and the owner’s belongings completely. The couple submitted another claim and were paid approximately $40,000 in damages. It’s been alleged that the Chapmans said their belongings had been destroyed in the blaze. When investigators contacted the woman who lived on the property, she said it was her personal contents that were lost.
The Chapmans couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.
“We believe that this case has merit and it was a false claim,” said Steve Begley, an investigative supervisor for the state insurance agency. “Property was lost, but we believe the Chapmans were living somewhere else at the time.”
Begley estimates DOI receives approximately 2,000 referrals of insurance fraud a month but only about 10 percent result in an actual arrest. He added that very few cases involve law enforcement officers who have been charged with a crime.
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