Sumter Men Sentenced in Federal Insurance Fraud Case

Insurance Fraud scheme created by Sumter residents led to jail time and criminal sentences
Insurance Fraud scheme created by Sumter residents led to jail time and criminal sentences

Plot to Get Insurance Money by Severing a Hand Failed, Men Sentenced for Federal Insurance Fraud

In 2008, two men severed a third man’s hand in a strange insurance fraud case. On December 14th, the men were sentenced in a federal court for their egregious crimes.

The “mastermind” of the plot was a man named David Player, a 58-year-old Sumter man, who was legally responsible for the victim, Michael Weaver. Player was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and he must serve at least 85% of the time, or about 12 years, before he is eligible for probation.

The second plaintiff in the case is Gerald “Trey” Hardin III, who was sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison. Although Hardin was responsible for tying Michael Weaver, the victim, to a tree and severing his arm, his confession helped federal investigators crack the case. He also pled guilty and did not obstruct the court’s proceedings. Player, on the other hand, lied when asked if he knew where the $671,000 in insurance money was.

Reportedly, Hardin also showed remorse for the crime, while Player did not. Attorney Winston Holliday said in court that Player’s actions “had been marked by unusual cruelty, a complete lack of conscience and repeated lies to the judge.” Hardin, who has been out on bond, will have three years’ probation, during which time he will participate in a substance abuse treatment program. Player will also have three years’ probation, and will be required to undergo drug testing, conspiracy and credit counseling.

Reportedly, Player used the insurance money to buy a house for his son, a Dodge Dakota for Hardin, and build a storage unit on his property. “Player made decisions to use policies, recruit accomplices, planned and organized the incident,” said Judge Currie. “He controlled the funds from start to finish. (Holliday’s) assessment of Player as the mastermind is accurate.”

The Insurance Fraud Scheme

Although Player did not commit the violent act, he is considered the "mastermind" behind the insurance fraud scheme
Although Player did not commit the violent act, he is considered the “mastermind” behind the insurance fraud scheme

In 2008, Player developed the insurance fraud scheme and convinced both Hardin and Weaver that they could get rich easily by lying to Weaver’s insurance company. After having a few drinks, both Hardin and Weaver were intoxicated enough that they agreed, and Hardin tied Weaver to a tree, then lopped off the man’s arm with a chainsaw. The three went to the emergency room, where they explained they had been removing tree branches when the chainsaw slipped and removed Weaver’s arm.

During sentencing, Judge Cameron McGowan Currie said that this was “the most egregious” crime she had heard of in her time on the bench. Player took advantage of Weaver’s trust – Weaver’s IQ is between 54 and 65 – because Weaver was emotionally dependent on Player. Additionally, Hardin is an admitted alcohol and drug addict, and therefore more easily taken advantage of.

As Weaver’s power of attorney, Player was responsible for filing the insurance claim. The insurance company settled for $375,000, in large part because doctors could not reattach Weaver’s severed arm. Several more checks were sent to the insurance company, and the three men eventually possessed a total of $671,125.

As part of his sentence, Player must repay the full amount.

The Strom Law Firm Understands Insurance Fraud and Federal Criminal Charges

Insurance fraud is a serious federal crime and can lead to years in prison, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or bail money. The three Sumter men had been under federal investigation for their insurance fraud for years, and now will serve years in prison.

If you have been accused of insurance fraud or another federal criminal charge, or if you are the victim of federal crimes, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Do not let criminal charges destroy your reputation. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.



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