Pa. Pair Try to Dig Out of Fraud Charges Involving Snowmobile

March 2, 2006

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett reported that criminal
charges were filed against two Solanco High School teachers accused of deceiving State Farm in a fraudulent insurance claim for less than $800 to repair a wrecked snowmobile.

Corbett said investigators with the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud
Section charged David Stokes, 35, of Lancaster, and James Helman, 39, of New Providence, Lancaster County, with two counts each of Insurance Fraud and one count each of Theft by Deception.

According to the charges, Stokes in February 2004 was involved in an
accident while operating Helman’s new snowmobile in Gaines Township, Tioga County. Helman had recently purchased the 2004 Polaris 800 snowmobile, however at the time of the accident he did not have the vehicle insured. The snowmobile sustained $763 worth of damage to the hood and left handle bar.

The charges claimed that the defendants vehemently argued over who was ultimately responsible for paying for the repairs. Stokes allegedly
told Helman that he had a way to get the damage covered by filing a
claim with his own insurance company.

Stokes is accused of falsely reporting to State Farm that he was riding another snowmobile and accidentally cut-off Helman on his snowmobile causing Helman to crash. As a result of the false claim, Helman was paid $763 from State Farm, the charges state.

“Our investigation determined that Stokes came up with the plan and
Helman agreed to back up the story when he was contacted by State Farm agents,” Corbett said. “However this attempt to defraud the insurance company failed after the insurance company received an anonymous letter claiming Stokes was operating the snowmobile when it crashed.”

The defendants were arrested on the charges and were each released on $5,000 unsecured bail.

A preliminary hearing for the defendants is scheduled for Friday, March 10.

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