California Resident Arrested for Auto Insurance Fraud

May 23, 2006

A Twentynine Palms, Calif., resident has been charged with three felony counts of insurance fraud. Jacob Leatherberry, 32, is charged with three felony counts of insurance fraud related to a 2005 auto accident and was booked into the Morongo Valley jail with bail set at $25,000.

Leatherberry was arrested on May 10 by a detective from the Twentynine Palms Police Department and arraigned on May 12. Prosecution is being handled by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office. If found guilty, Leatherberry could face up to five years in prison and be forced to pay a $150,000 fine.

According to California Department of Insurance (CDI) investigators, on Oct. 21, 2005, Leatherberry was involved in an automobile accident in the city of Twentynine Palms. Almost one and a half hours later, he called Progressive Insurance and paid off the balance of his lapsed insurance policy – a requirement he had to fulfill before he could purchase a new policy with Progressive. Then, while Leatherberry was purchasing a new policy with Progressive, he was asked if he was involved in any collisions in the past three years. Leatherberry replied no. He then obtained a new insurance policy that went into effect on the evening of October 21, 2005. One hour later, he called Progressive to report he had been in an auto accident.

Leatherberry later admitted to CDI investigators that he purchased the insurance policy after the collision occurred.

According to Progressive, Leatherberry’s truck was a total loss. Investigators estimate that if the claim had been paid, it would have cost the insurance carrier $8,000 to $10,000. Progressive provided valuable assistance during the course of this investigation, CDI said.

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