GATE CITY — Two local men — including a well-known Gate City veterinarian — were indicted earlier this week for allegedly submitting a false insurance claim for dead cattle.
Gabriel Parks, 31, of Kingsport, was indicted by a grand jury on a single felony count of attempting to obtain money by false pretenses, while Bill W. Fuller, 48, of Gate City, was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of the same offence.
According to authorities, Parks was charged after he attempted earlier this year to submit a $22,000 insurance claim for dead cattle he owned.
Fuller was charged with a misdemeanor after he allegedly sought a $115 reimbursement from the insurance company for examining Parks’ cattle and confirming their deaths.
The threshold for the charge to be considered a felony in Virginia is $200.
The Virginia State Police began investigating both Parks and Fuller earlier this year after Parks claimed a lightning strike killed a total of 17 cattle on May 6 at his farm near Gate City.
Authorities said their investigation determined that no cows had been killed, and that no lightning strikes were recorded in the area around Parks’ farm on the day in question.
Despite the fact that his cows were not killed, authorities allege that Parks approached Fuller and asked him to verify that the lightning strike had occurred and that the cattle had been killed as a result.
Authorities said Fuller failed to personally verify that the cattle had been struck and allegedly took Parks’ word for it before submitting the insurance claim.
As part of the submittal, Fuller allegedly billed the insurance company $115 for visiting Parks’ farm and examining the cattle, something authorities claim he never did.
Upon further investigation, authorities said they were able to determine that Parks had not lost any cattle and that several of the supposedly dead cows were still located on his farm.
Parks allegedly admitted to fabricating the story just two days after turning the insurance claim in on May 8.
Although both men were indicted, officials with the Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said they are continuing to investigate leads in the case and did not rule out the possibility of more charges being filed.
Both Parks and Fuller are scheduled to appear Aug. 20 in Scott County Circuit Court for arraignment.