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Insurance fraud case continued

Greg Risling

An insurance fraud case against a California Highway Patrol officer and his wife has been continued to Wednesday, Feb. 25.

El Dorado County Municipal Court Judge Jerald Lasarow will have to pore over detailed insurance policies during the next two weeks and decide if the case should proceed.

On Wednesday, two prosecution witnesses testified that an insurance policy purchased by Kathleen and Charles Chapman didn’t cover personal property if the couple no longer lived there. The Chapmans received approximately $40,000 from their insurance company, California State Automobile Association, for damages to their mobile home caused by a March 1996 fire.

The couple was also paid for a claim when they reported roof damage in 1995.

According to the California Department of Insurance, the Chapmans sold their property before the fire, although the title never changed hands. The woman who was allegedly living in the mobile home, Sandra Woodward, said it was her personal items that were lost in the blaze. DOI investigators have stated that the couple claimed some of their belongings went up in flames.

The Chapmans have been charged with three counts of insurance fraud. They have pleaded not guilty and face up to five years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000 apiece.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Sutherland contends that the couple wasn’t on the premises when the accidents occurred. A special investigator for CSAA said the organization’s insurance policy for mobile homes doesn’t cover rentals across the board.

“Triple-A only writes owner-occupied policies,” said Chris DeVitto of CSAA. She added that the organization never received a verification form from the Chapmans about the claim.

Monte Reece, the attorney representing the defendants, asked if every CSAA customer receives the insurance policy booklet which covers the guidelines.

“It’s standard,” DeVitto responded.

Reece countered that it wasn’t stated clearly to policy-holders whether they could claim losses if they rented a mobile home.

Charles Chapman has been a CHP patrol officer since 1969 and currently is on disability leave. His wife, Kathleen, was a former dispatcher for the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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