Indiana Police Officer Faces Insurance Fraud Charge

May 27, 2009

A St. Joseph County, Ind., police officer who allegedly crashed a rental car while doing emergency driving moves he had recently learned at the police academy has been charged with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

Prosecutors allege that Gary Newcomb, 35, had been drinking before the crash on Aug. 31, 2003, and was worried he might lose his job. James M. Miller, 32, who had rented the car, was worried he would be held liable for the damages to the car.

The pair, along with Newcomb’s then-wife, RaLynne C. Newcomb, who was a front-seat passenger at the time of the crash, agreed to tell police that Miller was driving and crashed when he swerved to avoid a deer, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court. The Newcombs agreed to pay any expenses incurred by Miller, including the insurance deductible and any increase in insurance premiums, the affidavit alleges.

Miller’s insurance company, Farm Bureau Insurance, paid Hertz $17,209 to cover the damages to the car.

All three were charged with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. If convicted, they face up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Newcomb has been placed on administrative leave with pay, Sgt. Bill Redman, a spokesman for the St. Joseph County police department, said. Redman said the department also will conduct an internal investigation.

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