A Fort Mill man told police that his twice refinanced truck was stolen. Then authorities found it burning.
Ronnie J. Patterson, 35, pleaded guilty April 22 to presenting false claims for payment in an amount greater than $5,000, Allison Love, executive director of the South Carolina Insurance News Service.
"When people do things to try to get insurance money, it costs all of us more money in insurance premiums," Love said. "South Carolina is trying to stamp out this crime by taking people to court and showing that you can't get by with insurance fraud in South Carolina."
Patterson's charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine, according to Mark Plowden, communications director with the office of the Attorney General.
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York County Court Judge Larry B. Hyman Jr. on April 22 sentenced Patterson to a five-year prison sentence suspended to three years with two years probation, according to a release issued last week from the South Carolina Insurance News Service.
Patterson also must pay $859.55 to Allstate Insurance for restitution, the release notes. Patterson's sentence is to run concurrent with an unrelated drug trafficking charge that was prosecuted by the 16th Circuit Solicitor's Office and yielded a five-year sentence, according to the release. He was arrested on the insurance fraud charge on Oct. 26, 2006, according to a Web site maintained by the 16th Judicial Circuit. Around Jan. 16, 2006, Patterson gave Allstate a false report about his 2002 Ford F-150.
"Mr. Patterson reported to Allstate that his truck was stolen, but it was burned," Love said.
The release notes the truck allegedly was stolen from Patterson's home while he was present. However, authorities did not find broken glass or any other signs of forced vehicle entry, according to the release.
"The investigator's inspection revealed that the truck's fire was intentionally set," Love said. "He presented the claim for the truck. Allstate denied the claim."
Patterson told officials his truck payments were up to date, but the investigation showed that his payments were behind and that the vehicle was twice refinanced, yielding a debt of $32,000, the release notes.
Meanwhile, the insurance company was out $859.55, the release shows.
"They paid that money out for a rental car (for Patterson)," Love said.
In 2007, the total amount of insurance fraud reported to the South Carolina Attorney General Office's insurance fraud division was nearly $8.4 million, according to the release. During that same year, 712 insurance fraud complaints were reported to the insurance fraud division. That netted 72 civil remedies and 94 criminal convictions, the release notes.
Patterson remained in custody Friday at York County Detention Center.
He will be transferred to a state prison at a later date.