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Sturgis city manager found guilty in insurance case

STURGIS — After nearly 3-1/2 hours of deliberation, a Meade County jury found Sturgis City Manager David Boone guilty of one count of grand theft by deception Wednesday night.

Boone is scheduled to be sentenced May 27 following a pre-sentencing investigation.

The jury began deliberations at 7:30 p.m., and announced its verdict around 10:50 p.m.

Boone was the only witness testifying Wednesday. During his testimony, Boone continued to deny that he had planned to defraud his insurance company. His attorney, Matt Kinney, also touched on what he termed the political motivations behind the trial.

Boone took the stand at about 2:45 p.m. and was questioned for more than two hours. According to Boone, the previous owner of the vehicle, Marc Bishop, never disclosed any damage to the 2002 Honda CRV Boone purchased from Bishop in July 2008. Boone said that he believes Bishop had indicated on the car’s title that there was no damage in excess of $3,000 and that Bishop never told him of the insurance payment Bishop received.

Boone also stated he had met with Farmers Union Insurance agent Scott Sabers after meeting with insurance investigator Mike Pease on June 24, 2010. Sabers had testified Tuesday that no such meeting took place.

Boone said that a meeting with the insurance adjustors on Aug. 14, 2009, was one of many things on his list of things to do that week, and he had never hatched any plan to commit fraud against the insurance company. Boone said his vehicle was damaged in a hail storm on Aug. 7, 2009.

He said he didn’t offer any information about previous damage on the vehicle because he wasn’t asked and because he assumed the company knew about or had access to information on the damage.

“I trusted the insurance company to do their job,” Boone said.

When cross-examined by prosecutor John Fitzgerald, Boone admitted that he knew his insurance policy only covered future losses, but said he never misled anyone about the condition of the vehicle.

“If they’d done their job properly, we wouldn’t be here,” Boone said

Boone and Kinney continued with their argument that the charge was brought about due to political motivations. He also stated that he did not direct Sturgis code enforcement officer Dave Smith to check up on the contractors’ licenses of Jamie McVay. McVay testified Tuesday that everyone knew Boone’s Honda was damaged and that he asked Boone to resign after the indictment was filed. Smith testified Tuesday that he was asked by Sturgis community development director Rick Bush, through Boone, to look into McVay’s licenses.

Boone also disputed the testimony of Mike Garrett, the Farmers Union Insurance adjustor who handled his claim, saying that Garrett was mistaken in his recollections.

During final statements, Fitzgerald painted a picture of Boone as someone who fell into a situation and took advantage of it. Fitzgerald said that the claim filed was the initiating statement of false information and constituted fraud.

Kinney said that Boone was the only relevant witness with a consistent story. He argued that Boone never had the intention of committing fraud and without that intention, he should be found not guilty.

He touched on the political motivations of the case, including the fact that Boone’s former neighbor Leo Jacobsen initiated the investigation by bringing it to Meade County State’s Attorney Jesse Sondreal.

“This courtroom has been used improperly,” Kinney said. “The state took the Jacobsens’ ball and ran with it.”
He asked that the jury not hold Boone to a higher standard just because of his position as Sturgis city manager.

“Is this some master criminal?” Kinney asked. “If so, why is he still volunteering information? Because he’s trying to clear his name.”

RapidCityJournal.com

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

April 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Insurance News