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Hawkins men indicted in $28K insurance fraud, arson scheme

April 22nd, 2014 3:40 pm by Jeff Bobo

Hawkins men indicted in $28K insurance fraud, arson scheme

Michael Stephen Caldwell and Brandon Eugene Frost

SURGOINSVILLE — Two Surgoinsville men charged in an arson and insurance fraud scheme dating back to 2012 were indicted Monday by a Hawkins County grand jury.

Michael S. Caldwell, 39, 1985 Longs Bend Road, and Brandon Eugene Frost, 28, 103 Forest View Drive, were arrested in February in connection with a 2012 scheme to "get rid" of a 2007 Chevy Tahoe, which later resulted in a $28,054 insurance settlement.

Both were indicted on charges including felony filing a false report, insurance fraud, and arson. Frost was additionally charged with burglary and theft over $1,000 in an unrelated case.

Caldwell reported the Tahoe stolen via telephone to the Surgoinsville Police Department on Sept. 14, 2012 while he was at a car show in Gatlinburg.He told police he'd received a call from an employee of an auto repair shop he owned at the time telling him his Tahoe was missing. 

Cell phone records later indicated that Caldwell received a call from Frost shortly before the Tahoe was reported stolen.

On Nov. 5, 2012, Caldwell received a check for $28,054 from Haulers Insurance for the missing Tahoe.The vehicle was later found burned on Feb. 3, 2013 in a rural area off of Gravely Valley Road north of Rogersville on property that is adjacent to Frost's family farm.

Former SPD Chief Jeff Hesoun began investigating Caldwell for insurance fraud based on tips and information he received from people in the community.

Hesoun discovered from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) that Caldwell had made previous suspicious insurance claims including $15,000 for a vehicle he claimed was struck by lightning.

During Hesoun's investigation, a witness came forward and claimed that Caldwell had offered that person $1,000 to "get rid" of his Tahoe for him while Caldwell was out of town. That witness reportedly declined the offer.

Based on information collected from other informants, Frost was later developed as a suspect and was interviewed by Hesoun. Initially Frost admitted he was offered $500 by Caldwell to "get rid" of his Tahoe, but he had declined.

Hesoun then subpoenaed cell phone records for Frost and Caldwell and allegedly found that the two had spoken to each other several times immediately before and after the Tahoe was reported stolen.

In February, Frost allegedly admitted that Caldwell paid him $500 to get rid of his Tahoe, and that Caldwell provided Frost a key to the vehicle.

Upon being confronted with Frost's statement, Caldwell allegedly admitted to the charges.

Both are scheduled for arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court on April 30.

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