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Hawkins insurance fraud case nets hefty restitution bill

Jeff Bobo • Oct 31, 2014 at 12:38 AM

ROGERSVILLE — The second of two Surgoinsville men involved in a $28,000 insurance fraud scheme pleaded guilty Thursday in Hawkins County Criminal court in exchange for jail time and a hefty restitution bill.

Brandon Eugene Frost, 28, 103 Forest View Drive, was sentenced Thursday to two years and one day in exchange for guilty pleas to attempted insurance fraud, vandalism over $1,000, and felony filing a false report — as well as a burglary and theft charge that weren't related to the insurance fraud.

Frost was also fined $1,250, and ordered to pay $14,027 in restitution to Haulers Insurance Co. He will be eligible for early release after serving 30 percent of his sentence.

Frost's co-defendant, Michael S. Caldwell, 39, 1985 Longs Bend Road, pleaded guilty on Oct. 24 to theft over $1,000, vandalism over $1,000, and felony filing a false report. Caldwell was sentenced to two years and one day of probation, fined $950, and ordered to pay $14,027 in restitution to Haulers Insurance Co.

Both 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.

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 found burned on Feb. 3, 2013, in a rural area off 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.

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

Upon being confronted with Frost's statement, Caldwell confessed as well.

Several guilty pleas were heard by Dugger Thursday and on Oct. 24 including:

  • Bonnie Lee "Sissy" Carroll, 26, formerly of Bulls Gap, who was sentenced to one year for attempted child abuse.
  • Crystal Shante Jarvis, 26, 126 Builders Lane, Rogersville, who was sentenced to one year, 11 months and 29 days for forgery, falsifying a drug test, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, following too close, and failure to show proof of insurance.
  • Bonnie Evette Donovan-Walters, 22, 474 Virgil Ave., Kingsport, who was sentenced to one year probation for statutory rape.
  • Joy Denise Harmon, 29, 734 Ordnance Drive, Apt. F2, Church Hill, who was sentenced to two years and one day probation, and fined, $2,650 for possession of Schedule III narcotics with intent to deliver, maintaining a dwelling for drug use, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Bobby Eugene Grayson, 30, 734 Ordnance Drive, Apt. F2, Church Hill, who was sentenced to two years and one day, and fined $2,650 for possession of Schedule III narcotics with intent to deliver, maintaining a dwelling for drug use, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Grayson must serve 100 percent of his sentence in prison.
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